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Rabat - King Mohammed VI addressed today a cable of congratulations to US President Joe Biden on Independence Day.

In the message, the King of Morocco conveyed the country’s “warm congratulations” to Biden and extended his “sincere wishes for further progress and prosperity for the American people.

He also expressed “great pride” in historical relations binding the two countries based on “solid friendship, mutual esteem and active solidarity.”

Reiterating his “firm determination” to work together with Biden to boost relations and to strengthen partnership to meet the aspirations of the American and Moroccan peoples, King Mohammed VI emphasized Morocco’s constant desire to establish dialogue, consultation and coordination with the US. He described the US as a friendly country with which Morocco has long worked to ensure regional security, peace, and stability. 

Morocco and the US share good diplomatic relations, which have further strengthened over the past months following the American recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.

In December 2020, former US President Donald Trump announced a proclamation recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed region and backing the country’s territorial integrity against separatism claims from the Polisario Front.

Biden’s administration has to date upheld the decision, with US government websites adopting the full map of Morocco to reflect support for the country’s territorial integrity.

In addition, the two countries work together in different fields, including trade, security, counterterrorism, among others.

One marker of the close Morocco-US security cooperation is the two countries’ joint organization of the African Lion, one of the largest annual military maneuvers in the world. 

This year, the armed forces of over 20 countries joined their US and Moroccan counterparts to take part in the African Lion exercise in five cities across Morocco. Among other goals, the exercise seeks to strengthen participating armed forces’ interoperability capacities and further facilitate intelligence sharing to counter terrorism and emerging global security threats. 

With the US considering Morocco’s approach against terrorism as comprehensive, the two countries have over the past few years repeatedly expressed determination to continue to boost their counterterrorism cooperation. 

Abdellatif Hammouchi, the general director of Morocco’s General Directorate of National Security and Territorial Surveillance (DGSN-DGST) visited the US recently, where he held several meetings with senior officials against security challenges.

Beyond the security realm, Morocco and the US have also taken significant steps to strengthen their economic partnership through the establishment of a free trade agreement (FTA) that has been operational since 2006.

In March, the US Charge d'Affaires in Rabat, David Greene, said that the FTA has enormously improved US-Morocco trade and that over 120 American companies currently operate in Morocco.

Meanwhile, the Office of the US Trade Representative has documented that “since the entry into force of the FTA, the U.S. goods trade surplus with Morocco has risen to $1.8 billion in 2011, up from $79 million in 2005 (the year prior to entry into force).” 

Source:Morocco World News

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Last month, Russia marked June 22, the date Operation Barbarossa – or Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union – began in 1941. As a former American officer from a military family, whose close ancestors fought in World War II, I could not but reflect on why in America the date that war began for us – December 7, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor – is not observed as solemnly as June 22 is in Russia.

My father was a career Air Force officer, which meant that when I was a child we moved from place to place, depending on the needs of the service. In the early 1970’s, we were fortunate to be stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, on the island of Oahu in the state of Hawaii. My father was assigned to the headquarters of the US Pacific Air Force. The building he worked in bore the bullet holes made when Japanese aircraft strafed it during the attack. These scars of war, together with similar holes in the wooden banister of the interior staircase, were retained as part of an official policy designed to instill the mantra, 'Never Again' in everyone who saw them.   

The other constant reminder of Japanese perfidy existed across Pearl Harbor Bay, off Ford Island, where on December 7, 1941, the US Pacific Fleet was moored. There, one could find the rusting hulls of the USS Arizona and USS Utah, left where they sank, a permanent cemetery for the thousands of sailors who lost their lives in the Japanese surprise attack. Over the remains of the USS Arizona a white structure had been built, a memorial to those lost that day. One could reach it by ferry. I visited it often, and always found myself staring at the holes in the ship’s structure where the massive turrets containing the Arizona’s mighty 14-inch guns had been mounted. I took solace in the thought that one of these turrets had been recovered and re-mounted on the USS Nevada and was used to bombard Japanese positions during the battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa; even as a child, one can learn to hate, especially when gazing upon the graves of so many.

My grandmother on my father’s side came to visit us while we were in Hawaii. Her husband, Irving Ritter, had served in the US Air Corps during the first World War, flying Curtiss ‘Jenny’ fighters (the war ended before he could be sent to the front). Irving and my grandmother had three children: Helen, Shirley, and my father. Helen married a Marine Corps veteran of the battle of Iwo Jima, and Shirley married a US Army weatherman who was crippled in a training accident before he could participate in a covert mission behind enemy lines in Burma to collect climate data used to direct US bombing attacks on the Japanese. My father was too young for World War Two, but he served a tour in Vietnam, and was now in Hawaii.

My grandmother insisted that we visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial. There was no love lost on her part for the Japanese, something that became apparent as she told us stories about how she listened to the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and, later, President Roosevelt’s address to the nation, where he declared that a state of war existed between the US and Japan. Always the proper lady, my grandmother dressed up for the visit, wearing a modest dress and her hair up, befitting the occasion.

To get on the ferry to the memorial, you had to purchase tickets. As we stood in line, my grandmother noticed bus loads of Japanese tourists arriving at the ferry wharf, tickets in hand, waiting to board the ferry to the memorial. It was 1972, some 31 years since the Japanese attacked the sleeping US fleet, and given the age of many of the tourists, men and women in their fifties and sixties, they had not only been alive when the attack took place but had been active participants in the society that carried it out.

My grandmother was a well-bred lady of a certain stature in society, not prone to making scenes or using foul language, but when she saw the Japanese tourists, she turned to my father, and in as an indignant voice as can be imagined, asked loudly, “Why are there so many goddamned Japs here?”

The Americans in line with us looked at my grandmother with sympathy; they could tell by her age, and where we were standing, that her emotional outburst was coming from a place of authenticity. All eyes were turned to the Japanese, many of whom had heard her words, and were now looking down at the ground in shame and embarrassment. It was not a comfortable moment for anyone present.

My father explained that many of the Japanese had come as an act of atonement, to show respect for the dead. He outlined that times had changed, and that we were now friends with the Japanese, and that we didn’t use words like ‘Japs’ when referring to them. My grandmother listened in silence, seething. But she retained her composure, and we completed the tour without further incident. Afterwards, as we drove home, she wept quietly. “They have no right,” she said, referring to the Japanese. “That place is not meant for them.”

Her pain was real, and there was no amount of time that could pass which would cure the wounds she felt in her heart. She died later that year, and her memories of the war passed with her.

Every December 7, I pause and reflect on the meaning of that day. I re-read President Roosevelt’s address and pay special attention to the notion that it was “a date which will live in infamy.”

Infamy. According to Merriam-Webster, the word means an “evil reputation brought about by something grossly criminal, shocking, or brutal.”

My grandmother certainly believed that was the case, and having experienced Pearl Harbor through her eyes, so did I. I could, and have, forgiven the Japanese for what they did that day.

But I will never forget.

Sadly, I can’t say the same thing about my fellow Americans. When was the last time we, as a nation, formally marked Pearl Harbor Day? Yes, every year the US military holds a solemn ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial, attended by local politicians and senior military officers. But does Poughkeepsie, New York pause and reflect? Mobile, Alabama? Bangor, Maine? Kalamazoo, Michigan?

No. As a nation, we have no collective memory of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the underlying infamy attached to those who perpetrated it. History has no meaning if you don’t ingrain it into your very being. For me, the memory of my grandmother’s indignation at the very site of the infamy in question left an indelible imprint. But unless one has a similar moment of clarity, history is but a collection of stories from a bygone era, merely the experience of strangers, and is thus seldom learned, never cherished, and easily forgotten.

In June 1988, I was part of a five-person advanced party of US personnel sent to Votkinsk, a Russian city located some 750 miles east of Moscow, in the foothills of the Soviet Union, where the Soviets maintained a factory that produced ballistic missiles. I was working for the On-Site Inspection Agency, whose job it was to implement the provisions of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, one of which was to build a monitoring facility outside the gates of this missile factory. We arrived in Votkinsk on June 18. The first team of US inspectors was due to arrive on July 1. We had a little less than two weeks to get things ready for their arrival.

The Soviets put us up in an upscale dacha (country house) on the outskirts of the town that had been built to host former Defense Minister Dmitry Ustinov during his frequent visits to Votkinsk. Now it played host to five Americans.

A few days after arriving, I woke and went for a morning run, accompanied by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official whose job it was to make sure I didn’t “get lost.” After breakfast, the Soviets drove us to the factory, which we were seeing for the first time. I walked the perimeter of the factory, initiating what was to become a routine for all future inspection teams (the inspection provisions called for a perimeter patrol to be conducted twice a day.) We then toured the rail sheds outside the factory gates, took measurements of places where equipment was scheduled to be installed, and returned to the dacha for lunch. On the television, I saw images of the Second World War being broadcast. I quickly realized what day it was and turned to my Soviet hosts.

“This is the anniversary of the German attack on the Soviet Union,” I said. “Are there any ceremonies taking place to mark the occasion? If so, I’d like to attend, and pay my respect.”

My hosts were appreciative of my grasp of history but told me that there were no official ceremonies. “The veterans and their families might visit a memorial,” they said. “But the official holiday for the Great Patriotic War is on May 9, Victory Day.”

That night, as we walked along the lakefront in Votkinsk, my hosts took me to a downtown memorial. There were bundles of flowers laid out in front. As we watched, families would pass by and lay more flowers.

“In America,” I told my hosts, “we have an official holiday to mark our entry into the Second World War: ‘Pearl Harbor Day’. I’m surprised you don’t have something similar here to commemorate the German attack.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs official thought about what I said for a moment, before responding: “Perhaps we chose to memorialize the victory. Those were dark days. Maybe it is best to remember them in private.”

On June 22, 2022, I watched the Russian president lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and at the Hero Cities memorials, in commemoration of the Day of Remembrance and Sorrow. Eighty-one years ago, on that date, the forces of Nazi Germany began their attack on the Soviet Union, beginning nearly four years of conflict that impacted virtually every family in the country. At least 27 million Soviet citizens lost their lives.

As I watched the solemn ceremony, I was struck by the contrast between the conversation I had in Votkinsk some 34 years prior and the events of the present. What had changed?

In short, history. Or at least how a nation collectively opted to remember its history.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought with it a fundamental change in the way Russians viewed their history. The Soviet Union was largely denigrated, and that which had been celebrated in the name of Soviet glory was left to languish amid an atmosphere of frustration and recrimination. Russia, as a nation, floundered, its identity as confused as its future.

To create a foundation of historical fact that could be used to redefine the character of modern Russia, its first president, Boris Yeltsin, in 1996, instituted June 22 as a national memory day, the Day of Remembrance and Sorrow. In keeping with the solemnity of the occasion the law mandated that there be no entertainment programs broadcast on TV or radio.

Over the years, June 22 has grown to resonate with many of the Russian people. History, it seems, is learned. More than fifty years after the end of the Great Patriotic War, the people of Russia were compelled to re-learn an aspect of their collective history that had been neglected by earlier generations. The May 9 celebration remained, for sure – everyone wants to celebrate a victory, especially one as grand as the occasion of the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Days of remembrance and sorrow, however, are more difficult to embrace, especially by those who have not been directly touched by the events occasioned. While it is true that every family in Russia was affected in some way, shape, or form by the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, as the grandparents who fought in the war die off, and the children of those veterans themselves age and deal with the realities of the present, the grandchildren are left contemplating a nation whose identity could very well be dominated by the challenges of the future.

By making June 22 a holiday of remembrance and sorrow, where no extraneous entertainment will be brooked lest the memories of what happened be somehow sullied, Russia is manufacturing history. This manufacturing is not being done by fabrication or distortion, but by simply taking the building blocks of history that had been allowed to collapse from past neglect and shaping them into something that the present generation could identify with, absorb, and make a real and present part of their identity as citizens of Russia.

In the United States, we have allowed the memory of what happened to be erased from our collective history and confined it to the myriad instances of family lore, until it dwindled to mean nothing for the nation as a whole.

Not so in Russia. The Russians put a halt to the whisper game, instead ensuring that everyone was told the same thing at the same time about a horrible event in their collective past that should never be forgotten, lest such events happen again.

There is a reason why the issue of “denazification” in Ukraine resonates with Russians more so than anywhere else in the world.

Russia has, through its actions, made sure that June 22 will not go the way of December 7.

I think my grandmother would have approved.


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Rabat - The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on in-person dealings have boosted the adoption of mobile and digital financial services in the world, particularly in Africa, according to the World Bank’s latest Findex report.

More than 80 million adults in India, as well as 100 million in China, made their first digitalpayments over the course of the pandemic, with 20% of adults in developing countries, or 720 million people, having made a digital payment in 2021.

An increase was noted in sub-Saharan Africa in the adoption rates for banking institutions, with more people opening accounts.

Additionally, the use of mobile money accounts, whether exclusively or in addition to regular bank accounts, saw a sharp increase as the percentage of adults using mobile accounts to save money surpassed that of regular accounts in 2021.

The increase is attributed to social distancing and quarantine policies adopted during COVID-19, which have made accessing physical institutions less convenient, and accelerated the development of mobile banking services.

Additionally, the increasing rates at which Africa is becoming connected to the internet, and the rise of a younger generation that is more technologically literate and more interested in using mobile banking helped the process along.

Despite the good signs, however, various reports point that the digital transition throughout the continent is still lagging behind.

A 2022 World Bank report pointed out that despite more than 60% of Morocco’s population using the internet, only 17% aged more than 15 use digital payment, with a mere 1.6% buying products and services online.

The phenomenon extends to the rest of the region, with the lack of digital payments mostly attributed to a distrust that most of the population continues to have towards the technologies.

Meanwhile, possibly counting on a higher rate of adoption of digital services in the future as younger generations become a bigger purchasing demographic, Morocco’s government and businesses continue working on digitizing their services.

Source: Morocco World News

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Rabat - The UN Secretary-General Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, will arrive today in Morocco, as a part of his regional tour to meet with involved parties in the Sahara dispute. 

Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General said yesterday in a press briefing that de Mistura will hold talks with Moroccan officials to find solutions for the four-decade long Sahara dispute.

De Mistura also intends to visit the Western Sahara region as part of his trip, added Dujarric, highlighting that “during this phase of the engagement, the Personal Envoy intends to remain guided by the clear precedents set by his predecessors.”

In January 2022, the UN official carried out his first tour to the region, during which he met a Moroccan delegation in Rabat to discuss the Western Sahara dispute.

With this new phase of visits, de Mistura “looks forward to deepening the consultations he initiated at that time with all parties concerned on the perspectives to constructively advance the political process on Western Sahara,” added Dujarric.

The parties involved in the dispute are Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and the Polisario Front.In an attempt to advance the political process on the Sahara question, the UN Security Council has called for a shared commitment from the four parties to find a mutually acceptable solution to the decades-old territorial dispute.

But the much-touted UN-led political process has witnessed stagnation in recent months due to Algeria and Polisaro’s rejection of the UN Security Council’s latest resolution that called for a lasting, politically negotiated solution to the regional dispute.


Source: Morocco World News.

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Washington should pull out of NATO instead of sending billions of taxpayer dollars to Ukraine and risking a nuclear war, according to a Republican congresswoman who has been highly critical of Washington’s response to the Ukraine crisis.

Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump, made the case in a series of tweets on Thursday.

Ukraine is the “new Iraq wrapped up with a pretty little NATO bow, with a nuclear present inside,” she wrote.

“The American people do not want war with Russia, but NATO & our own foolish leaders are dragging us into one. We should pull out of NATO.”

She described the provision of military aid to Ukraine, which she voted against in Congress, as a “proxy war” against Russia that Americans have no appetite for.

“Grinding up Ukraine to fight with Russia is disgusting, they could have been an ally,” she tweeted.

Marjorie Taylor Greene also listed a host of problems that she sees as more pressing for the American people, from soaring inflation to fentanyl overdoses and rampant crime. The only people vying for a conflict with Russia are “those who make money off of it,” she claimed.

“NGOs, defense contracts of all kinds, grants, business deals, even humanitarian aid, political consultants, & more,” she wrote. “War is an industry. A deadly profitable industry.”

Warmongers in Washington seeking war with Russia “should suit up and go fight it”themselves, she suggested. “Send your kids and leave ours alone. Pay for it yourself.”
Source: rt.com

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Covid-19 did not come out of some natural reservoir but rather "out of US lab biotechnology" in an accident, world-renowned economist and author Jeffrey Sachs has claimed, speaking at a conference hosted by the GATE Center think tank in Spain in mid-June.

While introducing this “provocative statement,” Sachs suggested that he was in the loop, as he chairs the Covid-19 commission at prestigious medical journal The Lancet.

So it’s a blunder, in my view, of biotech, not an accident of a natural spillover,” he reiterated.

The academic noted that while “we don’t know for sure” if this is the case, there is “enough evidence” pointing to this, which “should be looked into.” Sachs lamented that this version is, however, “not being investigated, not in the United States, not anywhere.

Back in May, Sachs, along with Columbia University professor of molecular pharmacology and therapeutics Neil Harrison, penned an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggesting Covid-19 had originated in a laboratory. In the paper, the two academics called for greater transparency on the part of US federal agencies and universities, arguing that a lot of pertinent evidence was not disclosed.

Virus databases, biological samples, viral sequences, email communications, and laboratory notebooks could all help shed light on the pandemic origin, according to Sachs and Harrison. However, none of these materials had been subjected to “independent, transparent, and scientific scrutiny,” they argued.

As an indicator that Covid 19 had originated from a laboratory, the authors brought up the fact that a sequence of eight amino acids on a critical part of the virus’s spike protein is similar to an amino acid sequence found in cells that line human airways.

In fact, Sachs is not the first one to suggest that the deadly virus had not occurred naturally.

While there is no conclusive evidence that would trace Covid-19’s origin beyond a reasonable doubt, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded in February 2021 that it had most likely been transmitted from an animal, possibly a bat, to humans.

The highly contagious virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. It then quickly spread globally, with several waves claiming millions of lives by May 2022, according to the WHO.
Source: rt.com

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Rabat - Morocco’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs announced on Wednesday that Eid Al Adha will take place on Sunday, July 10.

The ministry carried out the sighting of the crescent moon for Eid Al Adha 2022 today, announcing that the first  day of  Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic calendar, will fall on July 1.

The ministry reported that the crescent moon sighting for Dhu al-Hijjah was not clear, and religious experts were unable to observe it with a naked eye.

Therefore, Eid Al Adha will take place on July 10.

Eid Al Adha marks the tenth day of Dhu'l Al Hijjah.

Unlike Morocco, several countries will celebrate Eid Al Adha on July 9.

Saudi Arabia announced today that the first day of Dhu al-Hijjah will be on Thursday, June 30.

The International Astronomy Center announced earlier this week that most of Islamic countries will also celebrate Eid Al Adha on Saturday, July 9.

Known as sacrifice feast in English, Eid Al Adha is one of the holiest events in Islam.

During the feast, Muslims sacrifice a sheep, lamb, goat, or a cow. The Muslim event commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail at the behest of God.

Customs and traditions of celebrating the Eid differ from one region to another. But Muslims around the world share one common ritual: the morning Eid prayers.

Wearing traditional clothing, such as Djellaba, Moroccans flock to mosques to perform Salat El Eid [the Eid prayers] before joining back their families to kick off celebrations.

Celebrations start following the slaughtering of the livestock. Families gather around tables full of delicious food and dishes.

One of the most special dishes served during the first day of Eid in Morocco is lamb liver wrapped in caul fat, also known as boulfaf.

Source: moroccoworldnews 

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The US government is set to purchase more than $3 billion in additional coronavirus vaccines from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which said the sale could include a new drug designed to protect against the Omicron variant, currently under review by federal regulators. 

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced the latest vaccine deal on Wednesday afternoon, stating they would ship 105 million doses, worth a total of $3.2 billion, with contract options for another 195 million shots should the government agree to exercise them.

“This agreement will provide additional doses for US residents and help cope with the next Covid-19 wave,” said BioNTech executive Sean Marett, adding that “Pending regulatory authorization, it will also include an Omicron-adapted vaccine, which we believe is important to address the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.”

The firms said they provided the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with “pivotal data”on the “safety” and “tolerability” of two Omicron-adapted vaccine candidates last weekend, pointing to “positive” results in lab studies. Even before receiving approval, they have already started manufacturing doses of both candidates in order to “begin deliveries rapidly upon authorization.”

According to data gathered by UNICEF, the jab developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is among the most widely used immunizations against the coronavirus and has been approved by some 111 nations. The vaccine is one of the most lucrative medicinal products in modern history, helping to double Pfizer’s yearly revenue between 2020 and 2021.

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Britain will provide “sophisticated air defense systems,” drones, electronic warfare equipment and “thousands of pieces of vital kit” worth 1 billion pounds ($1.2 billion) to Ukraine amid its conflict with Russia, London announced on Wednesday.

The deliveries will represent the “first step” to allow Ukrainian forces to go beyond their“valiant defense” efforts and move towards “mounting offensive operations” to regain territory lost to Russia, the UK authorities claimed.

“UK weapons, equipment and training are transforming Ukraine's defenses against this onslaught. And we will continue to stand squarely behind the Ukrainian people to ensure Putin fails in Ukraine,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quoted as saying in the statement.

The new supplies will bring London’s overall military aid to Kiev to 2.3 billion pounds ($2.8 billion). The UK, which has been one of the strongest backers of Ukraine since the start of the Russian offensive four months ago, has also provided 1.5 billion pounds ($1.8 billion) to the country in economic and humanitarian assistance.

During the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday, the US-led military alliance declared Russia a “direct threat” to Western security.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the gathering via video link, demanding more help from member states, including modern weapon systems to “break the Russian artillery advantage.” 

He claimed the fighting is costing Kiev around $5 billion every month, and that – unlike Russia – Ukraine does not have oil and gas revenue to cover the deficit.

Moscow has repeatedly warned against supplies of weapons to Ukraine by the US, UK and other allied nations, saying it will only prolong the fighting, while increasing the risk of a direct military confrontation between Russia and the West.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.” 

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

Source: rt.com

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The US plans to announce as soon as this week that it has purchased “an advanced medium-to-long range surface-to-air missile defense system” for Ukraine, a number of news agencies reported on Sunday and Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Associated Press quoted a source as saying that the weapon in question is the Norwegian-developed NASAMS anti-aircraft missile system. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky requested the NASAMS to be delivered to his country when he addressed the Norwegian parliament in late March.

It was said that Washington would also supply Kiev with additional artillery ammunition and counter-battery radars.

The news comes as the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) –which comprises of the US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan – are meeting to coordinate further aid to Ukraine and more sanctions on Russia.

The US – along with other NATO members – has been increasingly providing heavy weapons to Ukraine, including various missile systems, combat drones, and armored vehicles, since Russia launched its military operation in the country in late February.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden unveiled a further $700 million military aid package to Ukraine, which includes HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles, and Mi-17 helicopters.

Moscow previously accused the West of “flooding” Ukraine with weapons and warned that any foreign weaponry on Ukrainian soil will be treated as legitimate targets.
Source: rt.com

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Rabat - Morocco’s Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) will host, on June 28 and 29, the Pan-African Hybrid RSIF Conference, focusing on the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) program.

The fund, which is the flagship program of the Partnership for Applied Skills in Sciences, Engineering, and Technology (PASET), focuses on training researchers and professionals to contribute to Africa’s development goals.

With a focus on food security, climate change, and energy, the fund hopes to tackle the continent’s most pressing issues through a combination of pan-African and international cooperation and strengthening higher education.

The fund has provided over 250 PhD scholarships to date, with research grants to 15 African universities, from contributions from nine African countries, the Korean Government, European Union, and the World Bank.

The conference to be held at UM6P will be themed “African-led science, technology and innovation for contributing to the SDGs and global development,” following up on the pre-conference held virtually in November 2021.

In addition to the RSIF and UM6P, the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) will also be participating in the organization of the event.

Bringing together members from PASET and RSIF, the conference will aim to showcase the RSIF model to relevant stakeholders, as well as share lessons on how to improve doctoral training and research across  Africa.

There will also be a focus on using digital technologies to achieve the continent’s goals, as well as the impact of the climate crisis on achieving said goals.

The discussion is more relevant than ever, as Africa finds itself facing new challenges as it tries to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent months in particular, African nations have seen their food security crises exacerbated as the prices of grains and oil steadily rise amid  the repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine war on the global economy.

Energy independence has become another issue, with fuel prices rising steadily. Amid dire prospects for the global energy industry,  Morocco hopes to contribute to solving its -- and eventually the region’s -- energy crisis through various projects such as its renewable energy ambitions, and the Nigeria-Morocco pipeline.

The event will also strengthen UM6P’s as a leader in Pan-African development. The university’s President Hicham El Habti previously told MWN that they view Africa “as a land of huge opportunities,” with a vision that the continent can help solve many of the world’s pressing issues.

Source: Morocco World News.

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Rabat - Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, said on Friday that cooperation between Morocco and the UN in the field of counterterrorism is “strong and fruitful.”

The statement came during a celebration of the first anniversary of the Rabat-based United Nations Office for Counter-Terrorism and Training in Africa.

During the celebration, Bourita and Vladimir Voronkov, the Under Secretary General of the UN’s Counter Terrorism Office (UNOCT) , agreed to strengthen the “strategic dialogue” between Morocco and the UNOCT over the coming years to fight terrorist threats.

Bourita additionally stressed that the Rabat-based counterrorisms training center is the first of its kind in Africa, having already delivered tangible results in the security field during its first year.

Speaking on cooperation between the UNOCT and Morocco, he also added that it focuses not only on theoretical improvements to counter terrorism, but also on enacting tangible measures and projects to produce results.

The minister went on to mention Morocco’s participation in various regional conferences and the partnerships it forged with the UN and other African countries to protect its security interests.

Rabat’s UN Office for Counter-Terrorism and Training in Africa relies on a pool of domestic and international experts to provide world-class training to African entities to combat threats.

On Thursday, the UNOCT organized in the city of Marrakech a high-level meeting where experts and officials from 23 countries discussed counterterrorism mechanisms.

The meeting dealt with security threats in the Sahel as well as the growing presence of ISIS in the continent, and symbolized Morocco’s commitment to regional cooperation to combat these threats.

Marrakech also notably hosted the ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS earlier this year.

All these developments come as Morocco continues to cement its global standing as a reliable and assertive player in the security field. 

The latest “Global Terrorism Index” from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) has notably ranked the North African countryamong the world’s safest nations.

“Morocco’s active role in fighting terrorism suggests the country’s understanding of the threat; the interconnectedness of its counterterrorism methods,” the IEP’s report detailed.

Source: Morocco World News.

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Germany is facing a “more significant” crisis than during the world’s first oil shock in 1973, according to Economy Minister Robert Habeck.

In a worst-case scenario, the coming winter could see factories shut down, workers laid off, and people going into debt to pay their heating bills, the minister told Der Spiegel in a lengthy interview published on Friday.

Habeck warned that price hikes for the German population are “not over yet” and energy costs are only “gradually” being raised for consumers. “More people will be affected,”he said, adding: “we are already in a situation in which Germany has never been” due to the“gas crisis.”

If Russian natural gas supplies remain at the current low level, Germany will face severe shortages, the minister warned, saying there will “definitely be a tough winter” and “certain industrial sectors would have to shut down.”

“That would be catastrophic for some industries… we are not talking about two days or weeks but about a long time,” and some regions might lose “entire industrial complexes,” he warned.

Habeck called on the public to save as much energy as possible, saying he personally barely heats his apartment and takes short showers: “I have never showered for five minutes in my life. I take a quick shower.”

If the worst-case scenario materialises, Habeck said “companies will have to cease their production, their workers will be laid off, supply chains will be collapsing; people are going to go into debt to pay their heating bills; people will be getting poorer and frustration will engulf the nation.”

“We are walking into a hard time,” the minister added.

Habeck also blamed Moscow for Germany's problems, saying President Vladimir Putin wants to “divide” Germany by driving up energy prices. According to Habeck, Russia is gradually reducing gas supply volumes to keep the price up and “stir up insecurity and fear” in Germany.

The minister also believes that Moscow wants to create “the best breeding ground for populism” and “undermine our liberal democracy from within.”

However, when asked about Germany’s oil and gas imports from Gulf monarchies with questionable human rights records, including Qatar, Habeck branded it “selective morality.”He insisted that one has to “differentiate” as “there is no such thing as black and white”when it comes to fossil fuels.

“I think what we are doing is better than remaining in Putin's clutches,” he said, adding that while no one’s record is spotless, Putin has managed to totally ruin his reputation.

Last week, gas flows through the undersea Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany were cut by as much as 60%. Russian energy giant Gazprom said this was due to technical issues arising from Western sanctions against Moscow.

According to Gazprom, German equipment supplier Siemens Energy failed to return gas pumping units to a compressor station on time. The repaired turbines for Nord Stream are currently stuck at a maintenance facility in Canada, due to Ottawa's sanctions on Russia.

On Thursday, the Kremlin also hit back at the accusations coming from Germany and other Western nations. Russia has earned a reputation as a reliable energy supplier which “strictly fulfils all its obligations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Source: rt.com

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The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has named a reason that would make him leave his post. Any cabinet decision that would mean “abandoning” Ukraine in its fight against Russia would make him “go,” Johnson told BBC on Saturday.

The premier has been under fire for quite some time now over a number of issues, including a breach of Covid-19 restrictions, to which he later admitted. A large number of lawmakers have called on Johnson to resign, yet the embattled head of government survived a no-confidence vote in June. Still, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today show, the prime minister said that “if it was put to me that we had to abandon the Ukrainian cause because it was simply getting too difficult,” it’ll be a loss too much to bear.

I would accept that I have lost a very important argument and I would go,” Johnson said, adding, however, that he doesn’t see this coming to pass.

The prime minister has otherwise stood defiant in the face of criticism leveled against him, against the background of the Conservative Party’s by-election losses earlier in June.

“As a leader, you have to try to distinguish between the criticism that really matters and the criticism that doesn’t.”

He further stated: “If you’re saying you want me to undergo some sort of psychological transformation, I think that our listeners would know that is not going to happen.”

According to Johnson, he is “fed up with hearing conversation” about himself and is more keen on the British economy and “standing up to violence and aggression” in Ukraine.

He has become one of Kiev’s most ardent supporters after Russia’s military operation in Ukraine began in late February. He’s visited Kiev twice since then and has repeatedly called on Western nations to provide more weapons to the Ukrainian forces. The UK has become one of the major arms suppliers to Kiev, including heavy weaponry.

In mid-June Johnson stated that the West must brace for a “long war” between Kiev and Moscow, and has vowed to boost efforts to train Ukrainian soldiers.
Source: rt.com

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North Dakota’s attorney general has sent a letter to Red River Trust, an outfit linked to billionaire Bill Gates, over its recent purchase of a large potato farm. Attorney General Drew Wrigley’s office warned the trust of potential violations of state and federal law and asked for more information.

Corporations or limited liability companies are “prohibited from owning or leasing farmland or ranchland in the state of North Dakota” or “engaging in farming or ranching,” according to the letter sent by Wrigley’s office to Red River Trust in Kansas, the agricultural news website AgWeek reported on Wednesday. 

The letter’s existence was confirmed by the Bismarck-based TV station KFYR, which published a copy of the first page. The letter, dated June 21, was also sent to Campbell Farms offices in Grafton, North Dakota. AgWeek revealed on June 13 that Red River had bought the company from the brothers Bill, Greg and Tom Campbell in November 2021, paying $13.5 million for 2,100 acres of their potato-farming operation.

The law also places “certain limitations on the ability of trusts to own farmland or ranchland,”said the letter, addressed to Red River trustee Peter Headley. “Our office needs to confirm how your company uses this land and whether this use meets any of the statutory exceptions.”

If Red River can show that it has such an exemption, the AG’s office will close their probe, but if they are found to be violating the law, they will have to sell the land within a year or face a penalty of “up to $100,000,”according to the letter.

Gates, who made his fortune at Microsoft, retired to pursue a variety of causes – from vaccines around the world to buying up land in the US – through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates has suggested his interest in agriculture had to do with seeds and biofuel, and advocated for switching to synthetic meat as a way to combat climate change.

Using a network of corporations, trusts and asset management companies, the software mogul had acquired more than 240,000 acres (over 97,000 hectares) of farmland as of 2021, with LandReport.com dubbing him “America’s top farmland owner.”

source: rt.com

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The German government launched on Thursday the second “alarm” phase of its three-level emergency plan, which was prepared over possible disruptions to gas supplies. It said the country is facing a crisis with the fuel amid diminishing flows from Russia.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck described the shortage of Russian gas as an “economic attack” on his country by President Vladimir Putin.

We will defend ourselves against this. But our country is going to have to go down a stony path now,” he said.

The introduction of new emergency measures comes after Gazprom moved last week to decrease natural gas deliveries to Germany by 60%. While Berlin slammed the Russian company’s decision as “political,” Moscow explained: “there is simply nothing to pump with,” pointing out that Gazprom was unable to safely maintain gas flow without a turbine that had been sent by Siemens Energy to Canada for maintenance, and not returned. The equipment got stuck there due to economic sanctions that Ottawa imposed on Russia.

The Canadian government said it was exploring ways to fix the problem. “The intent of the sanctions was never to cause significant pain to Germany, which is one of our closest friends and allies,” Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson told Bloomberg.

The German regulator of gas distribution networks, Bundesnetzagentur, said it will work to reduce gas consumption by manufacturers in response to the looming emergency. The country is concerned about saving enough for the winter period, its head said.

At the moment, German gas storage facilities are filled to 58% capacity, Berlin said as it introduced the “alarm” stage. It’s higher than it was at this time last year. Germany wants to reach 90% capacity by December.

If the highest third phase of the gas emergency plan is triggered, Germany will introduce gas rationing.

Source: rt.com

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Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia who is widely considered to be the de facto ruler of the kingdom, is visiting Turkey on Wednesday. He is to have talks with President Tayyip Erdogan in a second meeting of the two this year after a pause since the 2018 assassination of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

Ankara expects “a full normalization and a restoration of the pre-crisis period,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “A new era will begin.”

Jamal Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit squad at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. Ankara was angered by the fact that it was indirectly dragged into a crime, which Turkish officials blamed on the senior leadership of Saudi Arabia.

The perpetrators stood trial in their home country while the royal palace rejected assertions that Prince Mohammed personally ordered the hit. Riyadh claimed its security agents “went rogue” in Istanbul.

The diplomatic rift between the two nations was partially mended in April, when Erdogan paid a visit to Saudi Arabia and met the crown prince. Amid the reconciliation process, Ankara and Riyadh toned down their mutual criticisms. At the same time Turkey announced that it was halting the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects in the Khashoggi murder and transferring the case to Saudi Arabia.

Observers believe that the Turkish leader is interested in Saudi assistance to boost his country’s economy, which suffered some serious blows amid the global slowdown. Erdogan is facing a challenging bid to be reelected as Turkish president next year.

In February, Erdogan visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a close ally of Saudi Arabia, for the first time in nearly a decade. Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who was then the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, went to Ankara in November last year. The UAE announced the launch of a $10 billion fund for investments into Turkey following his trip.

Turkey’s change of stance towards Saudi Arabia is not unlike that of the United States. President Joe Biden, who pledged on his election campaign trail to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the murder, is set to visit the country next month. His administration is struggling to rein in the surge of gas prices in the US and seeks a boost in production by the Gulf kingdom.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman paid visits to Jordan and Egypt earlier this week.

Source: rt.com

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Rabat - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, has urged the UK and the EU to invest in Africa’s biggest gas energy project, the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline.

Speaking during an interview session with American media Bloomberg News, Buhari said that the UK and EU should invest in the planned 4000 km pipeline.

The pipeline, which is set to import gas from Nigeria through Morocco to Europe, would solve the gas supply crisis that Europe is facing because of the Ukraine war, Buhari explained.

Highlighting the need for multilateral cooperation on green transition projects, the Nigerian president said that there is an urgent need for “long-term partnership not contradiction on green energy policy from the UK and European Union.”

President Buhari commented on the progress made in recent months in the construction of the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline, noting that the Nigerian  Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) signed an agreement last week with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to bring the project to life.

In the interview with Bloomberg, the Nigerian president shed light on some of the challenges facing the continental energy project. 

According to the president, criminal and terrorist activities in Nigeria’s key oil-producing regions are hampering and deterring investments.

In a bid to address the issue, the president called on Western countries to embargo oil and gas from terrorist groups operating in Nigeria’s Delta region. 

The 4000-kilometer-long pipeline is one of the most ambitious energy projects on the African continent.

Conceived in 2018, the project is currently in the feasibility study phase and has already attracted significant capital from the Oil and Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) organization.

Aside from its potential to solve the current global gas supply issue, the project would significantly contribute to socio-economic development in the African continent.

While the project could have easily achieved its purpose of supplying gas to Europe through Morocco by only traversing three or four African countries, the pipeline is currently due to cross 11 African countries.

According to the Nigerian president, the regional pipeline is expected to create jobs, while addressing the energy shortage crisis on the continent and stimulating economic activities by providing a stable source of energy.

Source: moroccoworldnews 

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical advisor to President Biden, tested positive for COVID-19, his office said Wednesday.

The NIAID said Fauci, 81, tested positive for the virus through a rapid antigen test and is currently “experiencing mild symptoms.”

“Dr. Fauci will isolate and continue to work from his home,” the statement said. “Dr. Fauci will follow the COVID-19 guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] and medical advice from his physician and return to the NIH [National Institutes of Health] when he tests negative.”

This is the first time Fauci, who is quadruple-vaxxed against COVID-19, has announced he’s tested positive for the virus.

The NIAID confirmed Fauci received four COVID-19 vaccine doses, including two boosters.

Despite testing positive, Fauci today testified remotely during a hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, where he was grilled about the federal response to the pandemic.

“Our current vaccines have maintained their effectiveness for preventing severe COVID-19,” Fauci said, referring to the Omicron variant during his opening statement. “Individuals who have received only their primary vaccine regimen have a greater likelihood of getting infected with the Omicron variant than with previous variants.”

“Importantly, booster shots have been shown to significantly reconstitute and enhance the level of antibodies that neutralize the Omicron variant and in sub-lineages,” he added.

In May 2021, in an interview on MSNBC, Fauci said people who got vaccinated would not get infected.

In another interview, in Jun. 22, 2021 with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Fauci said:

“The situation is so clear, the data affirm if you get vaccinated you are protected, even with the Delta variant — which by the way has a greater capacity to spread from person to person — and when you’re infected it has a greater likelihood of giving you serious disease. We know that as a fact.”

“It’s as simple as black and white,” Fauci said. “You’re vaccinated, you’re safe. You’re unvaccinated, you’re at risk. Simple as that.”

Fauci’s office told ABC News he’s taking Pfizer’s antiviral treatment Paxlovid, which was never tested for safety or efficacy in vaccinated individuals and causes rebound COVID-19 symptoms in some patients.

Pfizer’s clinical trials of Paxlovid excluded vaccinated individuals

According to Pfizer’s high-risk and standard-risk clinical trials, vaccinated individuals who received a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine within 12 months of screening were excluded from clinical trials that assessed the safety and efficacy of the drug.

Originally, Pfizer was going to include vaccinated individuals in at least one trial — the EPIC-SR — but changed the exclusion criteria between March 9 and April 5, to exclude all vaccinated people.

According to an article by Dr. Paul Fenyves, a primary care physician with Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, CDC data show as of May 18, 76% of U.S. adults had been vaccinated, and an estimated 58% of Americans already had COVID-19 — so the trial supporting authorization of Paxlovid was not directly applicable to a majority of Americans.

“Paxlovid would be significantly more effective in people who have not been primed by vaccination or prior infection, so the trial supporting its use serves to exaggerate the benefit that most people would see from the medication,” Fenyves said.

Although Pfizer began a clinical trial of Paxlovid in vaccinated high-risk individuals, the trial combines vaccinated and unvaccinated patients, potentially clouding the issue, Fenyves said. “More importantly, results of the trial will not be made available until November 2022.”

Fenyves pointed out that Americans have seen scandals with drugs like Vioxx being sold despite known cardiovascular risks and OxyContin contributing to the opioid epidemic due to lax oversight, and a “much-needed independent review” of Paxlovid’s pharmaceutical clinical trial was needed.

Fenyves said Pfizer’s first trial was designed to overstate the efficacy of Paxlovid because the company’s goal was to maximize sales, but he was surprised the U.S. government would buy $5 billion worth of Paxlovid without requiring the pharma giant to show how the drug performs in high-risk people who have been vaccinated or previously infected.

CDC admits Paxlovid causes rebound COVID-19 symptoms in some patients

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on May 24 issued a health advisory to people taking Pfizer’s Paxlovid. Walensky warned the drug could lead to a rebound in COVID-19 symptoms, but claimed the benefits of the drug outweigh the risks.

“If you take Paxlovid, you might get symptoms again,” Walensky told CBS News. “We haven’t yet seen anybody who has returned with symptoms needing to go to the hospital. So, generally, a milder course.”

Paxlovid, antiviral medication, is taken over the course of five days. A five-day course of Paxlovid costs about $500.

After a patient recovers from COVID-19, the rebound appeares to occur between two and eight days later, according to the CDC.

People who experience a “COVID-19 rebound” after treatment with Paxlovid can be contagious even if they don’t have any symptoms, researchers warned.

The CDC, citing case reports and concerns that relapsed patients could spread the virus, advised users to isolate themselves for another five days if symptoms rebound.

“I am shying away from giving it to people who are very low-risk, and are not terribly ill, particularly people who are vaccinated and boosted,” Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of public health and epidemiology for Northwell Health, told Reuters.

Pfizer, in an email, said it is monitoring the issue but believes the return of detectable SARS-CoV-2 is uncommon and not “uniquely associated” with its drug. “We have not seen any resistance emerge to date in patients treated with Paxlovid,” a Pfizer spokesperson told Reuters.

As The Defender reported last month, NIH researchers said they would investigate how often and why coronavirus levels rebound in some patients who complete a five-day course of Paxlovid.

Clifford Lane, deputy director for clinical research at the NIAID, told Bloomberg it was a priority and a “pretty urgent thing for us to get a handle on.”

Lane said the agency is discussing with scientists at the CDC possible epidemiological and clinical studies to examine post-Paxlovid rebound.

In response to reports of patients relapsing after taking Paxlovid, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla suggested they take more of the treatment, contrary to the established protocol, prompting a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official to contradict Bourla.

John Farley, M.D., director of the Office of Infectious Diseases, in the FDA Updates on Paxlovid for Health Care Providers wrote:

“There is no evidence of benefit at this time for a longer course of treatment (e.g., 10 days rather than the 5 days recommended in the Provider Fact Sheet for Paxlovid) or repeating a treatment course of Paxlovid in patients with recurrent COVID-19 symptoms following completion of a treatment course.”

As The Defender reported in March, Pfizer stands to make $54 billion in sales from its COVID-19 vaccine and Paxlovid.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Children’s Health Defense chairman and chief legal counsel, told The Defender that taxpayers are paying billions for vaccines that don’t work, they get COVID-19 anyway and then they pay billions more for an inferior treatment.

Source: the defender children health defense news and views by Megan Redshaw 

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Spanish Minister of Defense Margarita Robles has qualified her country’s support of Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as the “best decision for Spain.”

In March, Spain officially endorsed Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, describing it as the most serious and credible basis to end the dispute over Western Sahara.

“When a decision of this kind is made, all the necessary elements of judgment are in place. In This context, the President of the Government, Pedro Sanchez, has made the best decision for Spain,” Robles told Spanish television channel Trece on Tuesday.

Defending her country’s new option amid criticism from Spanish MPs and Polisario’s supporters, the Spanish official said the decision came to light  after “reflection and an assessment of the situation.”

Like many of her colleagues from the  Sanchez government, Robles also believes that the Spanish support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan could contribute to maintaining stability in the disputed region. Madrid’s endorsement of Rabat’s initiative is a largely positive development for Spain and the whole Mediterranean region, she emphasized.

Robles’s remarks echo comments by a number of senior Spanish officials in the past few days. 

On Monday, Spain’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Global Affairs Angeles Moreno Bau similarly argued that in addition to being  “coherent and respectful of international law,” Spain’s newfound position on the Sahara dispute stems from the country’s desire to contribute to regional stability. “The Spanish government defends a position which is in line with the principles and parameters of the United Nations Charter and its resolutions,” Bau stressed.

Global support

While Algeria appears to have been particularly frustrated by Spain’s embrace of Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, many other countries have over the past years and months expressed support for the Moroccan initiative by describing it as the most viable way out of the lingering Sahara dispute. 

At the latest annual meeting of the UN’s C24 committee held this week in New York, the UAE  reiterated its unchanging support of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Morocco over its southern provinces in Western Sahara.

“My country supports the autonomy initiative presented by Morocco and which the Security Council has described as serious and credible to propel the process towards a settlement.”

For the UAE, as Morocco’s Autonomy aligns with the spirit and substance of all the recent UN Resolutions on the Western Sahara affair, it represents an “important” step toward a lasting solution to the territorial dispute.

Like the UAE, Gulf countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have also emphatically spoken in support of Morocco’s Autonomy Plan.

During the C24 meeting, Saudi representatives at the UN also stressed that the Moroccan Autonomy Plan is the most serious and credible proposal to resolve the decades-old dispute. They especially renewed their country’s recognition of Morocco’s efforts to find a realistic and consensus-based political solution to the crisis.

Most notably, perhaps, Saudi Arabia has over the past months been unambiguous in its rejection of any challenge to the supreme interests of Morocco, its sovereignty, and its territorial integrity.

Saint Lucia also renewed support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan during the annual C24 meeting, emphasizing that the 18 successive Security Council resolutions on Sahara commended Morocco’s efforts, including the autonomy initiative.

The country has equally reiterated its support for the UN-led political process to end the dispute over Western Sahara, highlighting the seriousness and viability of Morocco’s autonomy proposal.

The Western Sahara dispute has been ongoing for over four decades. While the past four to five years have seen a resurgence of optimism amid what many have called a “new momentum,” UN efforts to broker a sustainable and mutually accepted settlement in the region have dispiritingly stagnated as a result of Algeria’s reluctance to genuinely engage in the political process as a full-fledged party to the conflict.

Source: Morocco World News.

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Rabat -  The latest MobileRemit Africa index, issued by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on June 16, has established that the emergence of new mobile wallets in Morocco, the shift of consumer behavior in favor of digital payments during the pandemic, and the government’s digitization efforts have not necessarily improved Moroccans’ attitude to digital transactions.

In 2021, global remittances to Morocco were valued at $10.4 billion, contributing to 7.9% of the country’s GDP. Despite the availability of mobile wallets for digital remittances, only 1% of Moroccans made use of these low-cost tools last year to complete their transactions, according to the IFAD’s index

The remittances came notably from the Moroccan diaspora in France, representing 35% of global remittance flows to Morocco. Italy and Spain were the second sources of remittances for the North African country as they each contributed 9% to the overall money flow. 

With Morocco providing four mobile wallets, Orange Money, Inwi Money, Barid Bank Money, and MT Cash, some created during the pandemic, the cost of mobile wallets in the country in late 2021 dropped to 2.64% (lower than the SDG 10 goal of 3%), while the regular cost of non-digital remittances transactions stood at 5.56%. 

Still, Moroccans preferred the non-digital transactions which had an impact on the Moroccan score in the latest MobileRemit Africa index.

The North African country received a score of 75 out of 100 in the MobileRemit Africa index, ranking 28th in Africa and just slightly above the continent's average of 74. 

While Morocco was placed ahead of Egypt, Tunisia, and Mauritania, the Kingdom came way behind Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania. The three countries excelled in the African index, with Kenya receiving a nearly perfect score of 97 out of 100. 

According to the IFAD report, Morocco “should see the prevalence of mobile remittances increase over the coming years” if it continues to lower bank account penetration, boost mobile phone penetration, and develop its regulatory environment for e-transactions. 

Morocco currently has a perfect score of 100 in the indicators related to regulatory permission to process international mobile transfers and the presence of mobile services to complete such transactions (mobile wallets), said the IFDA report. 

Yet the mobile money regulatory framework is still lacking in the country as it restricts the use of non-bank agents. 

The low penetration of mobile money presents an additional burden to the implementation of an inclusive financial environment, which explains Morocco’s low score (39 out of 100) in the financial inclusion environment index. 

According to the report, Morocco should also develop consumer protection regulations through the advancement of mobile money deposit insurance. The country scored 70 on the consumer protection indicator. 

Besides the low cost of money wallet services, “the digitalization of remittances, particularly through mobile channels reduces fees and other transaction costs like travel time, making the process more convenient and safer while promoting digital and financial inclusion,” said Gilbert Houngbo, President of IFAD. 

Houngbo added that the digitization of remittances “is a great opportunity to boost rural development” since it helps reduce poverty, allows families to benefit from education and health care services, and provides support communities with the opportunity to integrate the formal financial sector by creating income-generating projects for the benefit of local communities.

Last year alone, global remittance flows went to more than 200 million families of migrant workers and were estimated at $605 billion, up by 8.6% from the 2020 value.   48% of the transactions were completed through mobile channels. 

Considering that remittances to low and middle-income countries are expected to reach $5.4 trillion by 2030, double of Africa’s GDP in 2021, there is a pressing need for the digitization of such services due to the high cost, above set goal of 3%, of non-digital transactions. 

Some regional initiatives were launched to support countries in their digitization efforts, such as the € 15 million initiative called PRIME Africa. Launched by IFAD and the EU, the initiative seeks to reduce remittance costs in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Gambia, and Uganda. 

source: moroccoworldnews 

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Texas Republicans adopted a plank to their platform declaring the 2020 election of Democrat Joe Biden as US president to be illegitimate on Saturday, during the party’s first in-person convention since 2018. It was one of several planks signaling a further shift right.

We reject the certified results of the 2020 presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States,” the resolution, passed by voice vote, reads. 

The majority of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen, with a recent pollindicating seven out of 10 are convinced Biden is an illegitimate president despite nearly two years of non-stop messaging to the contrary. According to Politifact, attempting to “fact-check” the beliefs of those who believe the election was stolen has only led them to hold tighter to those beliefs. 

Attempts to demonize those questioning the results by tarring them as would-be insurrectionists amid the January 6 riot hearings have not budged the needle either, merely inflaming both sides of the debate once again.

Former President Donald Trump himself still insists the election was stolen. However, despite numerous legal challenges in multiple states, his campaign was unable to flip a single electoral vote. He has continued to hold what are effectively campaign rallies in the intervening years despite technically not running for president in 2024, though he teased a possible run again during a recent event in Nashville. 

Biden officially received 7 million more votes than Trump, taking 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 270. While several members of the Democratic National Committee recently went on the record with the New York Times suggesting Biden should retire after serving his term, the president reportedly plans to run again, potentially setting up a rematch with Trump.

The planks of the Republican Party platform are not legally binding and candidates are not required to swear fealty to them in order to run under the party banner. In general, they reflect the wishes of the most activist members of the party – those who show up to its biannual conventions to make their opinions felt. 

Aside from denouncing Biden’s election as false, the Texas Republicans also voted to declare homosexuality an “abnormal lifestyle choice” and gender identity disorder a “genuine and extremely rare mental health condition,” while declaring that schoolchildren should “learn about the humanity of the preborn child.” Additional planks include restricting the government’s abilities to regulate gun ownership or change the number of Supreme Court justices, abolishing the federal income tax, and shutting down the Federal Reserve.
source: rt.com

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Rabat - Morocco and Saudi Arabia have reaffirmed their determination to continue to bolster their cooperation in all fields, particularly trade.

The two countries echoed their determination during the 13th session of the Moroccan-Saudi Joint Commission, which opened today in Rabat.

Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita and Saudi Diplomat Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdellah Al Saud are co-chairing the high-level symposium, marking the presence of high-level officials from both countries.

“We, in the Kingdom of Morocco, we are proud of the level of cooperation with Saudi Arabia,” Minister Bourita said in his opening speech.

The Moroccan FM highlighted Saudi Arabia’s unwavering support for Morocco’s high interests, including territorial integrity and sovereignty over its southern provinces.

Bourita recalled that the holding of the 13th session of the Saudi-Morocco mixed committee came after nearly nine years of absence. The mixed cooperation meeting reflects the two countries’ desire to reactivate this “key cooperation mechanism .”

The Moroccan FM also reaffirmed Morocco’s determination to boost diplomatic ties between the two countries, calling on Saudi authorities to support Moroccan reforms and development programs.

For his part, Prince Faisal Al Saud expressed his deep thanks and gratitude for the warm reception and hospitality he and his delegation received in Morocco, emphasizing the importance of cooperation between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia also commended Morocco’s efforts to defend the Palestinian cause.

“The continuous efforts made by HM King Mohammed VI, Chairman of the Al-Quds, aimed at defending the city of Al-Quds Al-Sharif and its inhabitants, preserving its civilizational identity and protecting its status as a symbol of tolerance and coexistence between different monotheistic religions,” the Gulf country’s representatives in the meeting said.

In 2021, the overall value of trade between the two countries reached $1.76 billion.  Some 250 Saudi-owned companies are based in Morocco, while fewer than 20 Moroccan companies are present in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi direct investments in the North African country stood at $26.6 million in 2020. The investments span several industries, including real estate, tourism, and agriculture.

Source: Morocco World News

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Rabat - King Mohammed VI has tested positive for COVID-19, the monarch’s personal doctor Lahcen Belyamani announced today.

A statement from the doctor said the King of Morocco is following medical protocol over the coming few days.

The king’s physicians are likely to keep a close eye on the monarch’s health as he has had past issues with a heart condition that appeared to have improved significantly over the past two years.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Morocco multiplied over the past month, moving from a few dozen new daily cases to 1 568 cases recorded within the past 24 hours.

So far, Morocco’s epidemic has resulted in over 1.1 million infections, with 8 560 current active infections in the country. 

The number of infections brought the total of  COVID-19 cases registered in Morocco since its outbreak to 1,181,042. The total number of fatalities related to the virus stands at 16,085.

Casablanca-Settat region currently has the majority of cases in the past 24 hours (641), followed by Rabat-Sale-Kenitra (475),  and Fez Meknes (132 cases).

Source: Morocco World News.

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