Photo credit: The Times of Israel
March 9th, 2020
Three stories you need to read today. Compiled and broken down for you by Reporting Morocco student journalists — every day. Brought to you from the School for International Training’s journalism program, Rabat.
Sources: The Times of Israel
Lede: In yet another indication of warming ties between Jerusalem and some Arab countries, an Israeli official this week actively participated in an anti-terrorism conference in Morocco.
Key background: In a joint statement released Thursday, participating countries and organizations acknowledged “the ever-changing threat posed by al-Qa’ida” and listed several principles to help promote “collective cooperation by participants to employ a comprehensive approach against the ever-changing and evolving al-Qa’ida threat.”
Why is this newsworthy: The story offers an interesting follow-up to the Trump proposed Morocco-Israel trade-off. While Morocco and Israel have no official diplomatic relations, the North African nation is one of two Arab countries that allows entrance to Israeli passport holders. The article indicates that the ties between Morocco and Israel are strengthening. It also seems to be hinting at Israel’s continuous support of peace in the Middle East, and its global perception as a ”liberal” democracy.
Source: Asharq Al-Awsat
Lede: The separatist Polisario Front is under the greatest diplomatic isolation in 40 years, said Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani.
Key Background: He noted that the number of countries that recognize the movement “has declined in recent years and has become very limited.” He said 87 countries used to recognize the Polisario, but now “the number has decreased to less than a third, which is a positive and significant development.” Morocco has adopted several initiatives on the Sahara that are aimed at defending national and territorial integrity and that have earned the country many gains.
Why is this newsworthy: With the recent increase in tensions in the region, countries like Japan, Chile and Turkmenistan showed support for the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. The decrease in the number of nations that recognize the region is significant, and could result in further Moroccan influence.
Sources: Morocco World News
Lede: As the numbers of confirmed novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, cases grow in Africa, the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism and the national airline Royal Air Maroc (RAM) predict mass cancellations in March.
Key Background: Although they could not give definitive statistics, the source was clear that, if the situation continues, it will have a detrimental effect on the company’s turnover. “What is certain is that reservations are fewer and that we are behind schedule in our business plan,” the source added.
Why this is newsworthy: Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism has been transparent about its attempts to grow its tourism sector, and therefore the Moroccan economy, by attracting a higher number of visitors each year. A desired quota is released annually, and the recent spread of COVID-19 will most likely alter these plans and have significant consequences on the Moroccan economy.