Morocco: Current Issues [July 11, 2011]   [open pdf - 357KB]

"The United States government views Morocco as an important ally against terrorism and a free trade partner. Congress appropriates foreign assistance funding for Morocco for counterterrorism and socioeconomic development, including funding in support of a five-year, $697.5 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) aid program agreed to in 2007. Congress also reviews and authorizes Moroccan purchases of U.S. defense articles. U.S. officials have expressed support for Morocco's current reform efforts while reiterating strong support for the Moroccan monarchy. King Mohammed VI retains supreme political power in Morocco, but has taken some liberalizing steps with uncertain effects. Reform efforts have been stepped up since March 2011, amid a series of pro-democracy demonstrations. On July 1, the king submitted a new constitution to a public referendum; it passed with over 98% of the vote. The constitution, which was drafted by a commission appointed by the king in March, aims to grant greater independence to the prime minister, the legislature, and the judiciary, and to provide greater protections for individual rights. Nevertheless, the king retains significant executive powers, such as the ability to fire ministers and dissolve the parliament; he will chair the new body that will oversee the judiciary and remains commander-in-chief of the military and the country's preeminent religious authority. Weekly protests have continued, with activists criticizing the king's control over the reform process and calling for deeper changes to the political system. Authorities have tolerated many of the protests, but in some cases security forces have used violence to disperse demonstrators. […] Morocco's foreign policy focuses largely on France, Spain, and the United States. Relations with Algeria are troubled by the unresolved dispute over the Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco largely occupies and views as an integral part of its national territory. Algeria supports the POLISARIO Front in its quest for the region's self-determination. Relations between Morocco and Israel are strained, though at the same time, 600,000 Moroccan Jews are citizens of Israel. Morocco severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 2009, and was invited to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in May 2011. See also CRS [Congressional Research Service] Report RS20962, 'Western Sahara', by Alexis Arieff."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RS21579
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