Morocco. During the year, Morocco felt increasingly trapped between migrants from other African countries who wanted to move on to Europe and, on the other, Spain and other EU countries’ demands for refugees to be stopped. According to Countryaah, the EU has paid Morocco tens of millions of euros for stricter border controls and Morocco has progressed hard, including by deporting migrants back across the border to, for example, Algeria. Many of the migrants tried to enter the two Spanish enclaves Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan coast. In September, about 100 people managed to get through the fence to Melilla.
In June, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch criticized Moroccan courts for the fact that acknowledgments and other information forced under torture often formed the basis for convictions. Other types of false evidence were also used in trials against democracy activists and terrorist suspects, the organization reported, which was also critical of civilians, such as Western Saharians, being sentenced in military courts.
The secular middle party Istiqlal jumped on July 9 by the government coalition and left the Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD) to rule in a minority. The government crisis stemmed from the fact that PJD wanted to cut government subsidies on basic commodities in order to live up to the demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on reducing the budget deficit. Since 2011, the government had raised wages, pensions and subsidies to prevent popular dissatisfaction and revolts in the style of the Arab Spring in neighboring countries.
Migration Observatory in Africa
An African migration observatory is inaugurated in Rabat, according to an agreement between Morocco and the African Union (AU). The observatory will collect, analyze and disseminate data on migration. The purpose is for African countries to have access to their own data on how migrants move. Among other things, the initiators want the opportunity to dispel myths about migration, which largely takes place between African countries and not necessarily from Africa to Europe. AU is planning two other institutions to study migration: one in Mali, another in Sudan.
Berber dish on world heritage list
The UN organization Unesco classifies couscous as a cultural world heritage site following a joint application from Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia. Couscous consists of crushed groats, usually of wheat, which is steamed and served with a main course and a large variety of seasoning options. Couscous dishes are considered to be of Berber origin and are common throughout North Africa.
Normalization between Morocco and Israel
Morocco and Israel are normalizing their relations, US President Donald Trump announced. Morocco is the fourth Arab country since August to recognize Israel and thus the sixth overall. Egypt and Jordan made such decisions in connection with peace agreements in the 20th century and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan were added in 2020. The United States has in exchange promised to recognize Morocco’s supremacy over the occupied Western Sahara. Both Western Saharans and Palestinians react with disappointment, even though the King of Morocco has promised to continue to support the Palestinians’ quest for their own state.
EU requirements for the readmission of migrants
Since 2018, the EU has contributed 343 million euros to Morocco’s handling of migrant flows, according to statistics published in connection with EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson visiting Morocco. The money has, among other things, gone to police training. One of the topics that Johansson is in place to negotiate with Moroccan authorities is the readmission of migrants who are not allowed to stay in Europe. The Canary Islands have in recent months witnessed growing crowds crossing the Atlantic from the African side. Johansson states that about half of the migrants who came to the Canary Islands are Moroccan citizens. During the corona pandemic, arriving migrants were not deported from Spain.