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The Ouarzazate Solar Plant in Morocco: Triumphal 'Green' Capitalism and the Privatization of Nature

[Computer-generated image of what the entire NOOR solar power complex is expected to look like. Image from MASEN/Youtube]

Ouarzazate is a beautiful town in south-central Morocco, well worth visiting. It is an important holiday destination and has been nicknamed the "door of the desert." It is also known as a famed location for international filmmaking, where films such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), and Kingdom of Heaven (2005) were shot, as was part of the television series Game of Thrones. That is not all what Ouarzazate has to offer as its name has recently been associated with a solar mega-project that is supposedly going to end Morocco's dependency on energy imports, provide electricity to more ...

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New Texts Out Now: Mona Harb and Sami Atallah, Local Governments and Public Goods: Assessing Decentralization in the Arab World

[Cover of Mona Harb and Sami Atallah,

Mona Harb and Sami Atallah, editors, Local Governments and Public Goods: Assessing Decentralization in the Arab World. Beirut: LCPS-OSF, 2015.  Jadaliyya (J): What made you put together this book? Mona Harb and Sami Atallah (MH and SA): We wanted to write this book since we first met at a conference on local governments at the current Institut Français du Proche-Orient of Beirut in 2000, which led to a publication that remains a reference on the topic. Mona was presenting her work on local governments’ participatory practices in south Beirut, and Sami was speaking of fiscal decentralization in Lebanon. Fourteen years later, the opportunity to realize this ...

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2 اللااستثناء المغربي: حزب وجيش وقصر

[صورة من متحف جيش التحرير المغربي في الرباط. بعدسة الؤلفة]

 اللااستثناء المغربي: حزب وجيش وقصر (الجزء الثاني) [اضغط/ي هنا لقراءة الجزء الأول من المقال] إن تفاعل الذاكرة والنسيان في صياغة الدولة لتاريخ الخمسينيات في المغرب يأخذ شكلاً كليَّ الحضور في موقع متحف جيش التحرير المغربي. يقع المتحف في بناء المندوبية السامية لقدماء المقاومين وأعضاء جيش التحرير، المتوضع بعيداً في الرباط بين عدد من الفروع الوزارية في حي أكدال.ولا يثير موقع المتحف سؤال هذا المقال المعلن فحسب، بل يثيره أيضاً ما يكمن داخل جدران المتحف. ذلك أنّ المتحف المؤلف من أربعة طوابق، يحتوي على عدد من التذكارات من الأيام الأولى لعمليات جيش التحرير المغربي، بالإضافة إلى التعبيرات الفنية عن عمليات متنوعة، وكذلك دزينات من اللوحات والصور للعائلة الملكية. وبالرغم من ...

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Morocco: A Bipolarization under Royal Control

[A woman walks by a wall adorned with party symbols for election lists. Image by Vesna Middelkoop/Flickr]

The Moroccan electoral race began in September with the local and regional elections, which culminated on Tuesday 13 October with the election of the President of the Chamber of Councillors, the Upper House of Parliament. [1] The 120 elected representatives (217 prior to the constitutional reform of 2011) have designated Hakim Benchemass, from the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM) as the president of the Chamber of Councillors. It took two rounds and a margin of one vote to rule out Benchemass’ opponent from the Istiqlal party, Abdessamad Kayouh. This narrow victory allowed the parliamentary opposition to take control of the Upper House. While the Istiqlal ...

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The Moroccan Non-Exception: A Party, an Army, and a Palace (Part II)

[A miniature display depicting a joint operation that both the Moroccan and Algerian Liberation Armies carried out against the French on display at the Moroccan Liberation Army Museum in Rabat. Image by author]

[The following is the final part of "The Moroccan Non-Exception" Jadaliyya roundtable. Read the introduction here. Read the first part of this installment here.] The interaction of memory and forgetting in the state's construction of the history of the 1950s in Morocco takes on a pervasive form at the site of the Moroccan Liberation Army (MLA) museum. The museum is located within the premises of the Haut Commissariat des Anciens Resistants et Membres de l'Armée de Libération, tucked away in Rabat between a number of ministerial branches in the Agdal neighborhood. It is not the museum's location alone that draws interrogation for this contribution's ...

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The Moroccan Non-Exception: 'Much Loved' and Realism, Colonialism, and Pornography in Moroccan Cinema

[Screenshot of the trailer for the film

[The following is the second installment in "The Moroccan Non-Exception" Jadaliyya roundtable. Read the introduction here.] A wave of contentious reactions have dominated the Moroccan media landscape following the release of Nabil Ayouch's new film Much Loved, a fictional story about three Moroccan prostitutes in Marrakech. The reactions to the film are based on several extracts and a trailer that emerged online, some of which contained sexually explicit scenes. The excerpts were released just before the film’s screening at the Quinzaine des Realisateurs in Cannes. The reaction culminated with the Moroccan Ministry of Communications' illegal ...

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The Moroccan Non-Exception: Roundtable Introduction

[Image of a building facade in Casablanca. Image by Nadir Bouhmouch]

Since protests shook the region in December 2010, pundits have rushed to make sense of what is happening in Morocco. In the process, a normative framework has emerged under the guise of "Moroccan exceptionalism," effectively compounding the complexities of the events and processes taking shape. "Impressive though often overlooked, this rare success story from the Arab Spring," describes one report on Morocco, "is occasionally invoked as a possible source of emulation by other Arab or predominantly Muslim states." Another article asserts that, "In a region in which political legitimacy is hard to come by, Morocco is governed by a ...

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France Decorates a Moroccan Facing Justice on Bastille Day: A Portrait of Abdellatif Hammouchi

[Abdellatif Hammouchi receives decoration from the Spanish government. Image from screenshot of Moroccan state channel, Al Oula.]

Despite objections from human rights organizations in Morocco and France, on 23 June 2015, the National French Assembly adopted a bill that requires judges to refer legal complaints regarding criminal acts committed in Morocco to Moroccan justice. This would also include cases in which French citizens were subjected to acts of torture. The Senate will ratify this decision on 15 July 2015. This ratification comes a little over a year after the French justice system began raising questions about the head of Morocco's intelligence services, Abdellatif Hammouchi, for whom strong suspicions of complicity in torture did little to impede his rapid rise through the ranks. ...

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الثورة القادمة إلى شمال أفريقيا: الكفاح من أجل العدالة المناخية

الثورة القادمة إلى شمال أفريقيا: الكفاح من أجل العدالة المناخية حمزة حموشان وميكا مينيو-بالويللو بلاتفورم لندن، مؤسّسة روزا لوكسمبورغ وعدالة بيئيّة شمال أفريقيا. مارس 2015 يمكنكم قراءة الكتاب وتحميله هنا.   1- ماهو غرضكم من تأليف هذا الكتاب؟ هدفنا هو إلقاء الضّوء على عنف تغيّر المناخ في شمال أفريقيا والتّأكيد على الحاجة إلى استجابة محليّة. أردنا الإشارة إلى أنّ بقاء الإنسانيّة على قيد الحياة مرهون بالتغيير الهيكلي وعلى مواجهة تحدّي الحديث عن العدالة المناخيّة بالّلغة العربيّة. تغيّر المناخ هو حقيقة موثقة في شمال أفريقيا. عدة أشخاص يلاقون حتفهم والكثيرون يجدون أنفسهم مجبرين على ترك أراضيهم بسبب موجات الجفاف والعواصف الّتي أصبحت أكثر حدة ومتكرّرة ...

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Paradigms Lost in Morocco: How Urban Mega-Projects Should Disturb our Understanding of Arab Politics

[A picture of the Casablanca Marina project under construction (2013), and the slums right across it. Image by author.]

When you enter Casablanca by train along the coastal track, you can see the new high-rises of Casablanca Marina appear in the distance. Although still under construction, it has already radically transformed the skyline of Casablanca. The Mrina project is situated just in front of the old medina between the harbor and the magnificent Hassan II Mosque. The medina, the traditional part of the city, with its robust stone walls, its narrow streets, and its numerous small shops, will be hidden from now on behind a new city-panorama of concrete and glass. A new beachfront reaches out to the Atlantic Ocean, and to the rest of the world. It will consist of yachting marinas, ...

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تاريخ النشاط السياسي واقتصاده السياسي في المغرب: مقابلة للوضع بين زكية سليم وسامية الرزوقي

تلقي زكية سالم في هذه المقابلة الضوء على الفروق الدقيقة التاريخية للنشاط الاجتماعي النسوي في المغرب. تتضمن المقابلة التالية أربعة أجزاء، بحيث يمكنكم أن تنقروا عليهما بشكل منفصل. بوسعكم أن تقرأوا أيضاً النص العربي المدوّن المرافق. زكية سليم أستاذة مساعدة في علم الاجتماع ودراسات النساء والجندر في جامعة رتغرز حيث تدرِّس الحركات النسوية، الجندر، العولمة، الحركات الاجتماعية، الامساواة العالمية، وما بعد الكولونيالية. تشمل اهتماماتها كباحثة العرق، والامبراطورية والاقتصاد السياسي والحرب على الارهاب، وسياسات ابتنمية، والحركات والمجتمعات الاسلامية، والشرق الاوسط والعلاقات الامريكية. إن كتاب سليم"بين النسوية والاسلام" يوضح تداخل الانظمة العالمية للحقوق والبدائل ...

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Those Who Want To Build, Those Who Want To Fight: The World Social Forum with a North African Twist

[Logo of the 2015 World Social Forum. Image via Wikimedia Commons.]

Holding the World Social Forum (WSF) in Tunisia, for the second time, is doubly significant. It is right on target, since Tunisians have toppled a neoliberal dictator. It is also a painful reminder of capitalism’s power, as Tunisian neoliberalism (along with the dictator’s entourage) is still intact. Not only are the main contours of Ben Ali’s policies still in place, his top bureaucrats are in command. Moreover, they have come back through elections. Voters replaced them for a secular liberal-Islamic coalition, partially due to worries regarding increasing conservatism and a deteriorating security situation. That coalition was also deeply neoliberal. In short, Tunisians ...

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الأبعاد البنيوية والرمزية للعنف

حوار مع أحمد المرزوقي، سجين سابق في تزمامارت منذ خمس وعشرين سنة، بدا كما لو أن المغرب يقوم بمحاولة جدية لمواجهة انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان السابقة وتطبيق حكم القانون. فقد تعهّد الملك الحسن الثاني بطي صفحة “سنوات الرصاص”، كما تُدْعى فترة القمع السياسي في المغرب، وتطبيق معايير حقوق الإنسان الدولية في البلاد. وفي أوائل التسعينيات، أطْلقت السلطات سراح السجناء السياسيين، وأغلقت سجن تزمامارت السري سيء الصيت، وعقدت جلسات استماع علنية حول أربعين عاماً من انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان الفاضحة. لكن التغير المفاجئ عكس ضعف ...

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Remembering Fatema Mernissi

This tribute is to Fatema Mernissi: mentor, insightful teacher, organic intellectual, incisive feminist, powerful voice, charismatic presence, craftswoman, generous host, and friend.  Fatema Mernissi, a writer, professor, sociologist, and central figure of Arab feminism, passed away at the age of seventy-five on Monday, 30 November, in Rabat. Mernissi was a professor at the Mohammed V University of Rabat and a research scholar at the Institut Universitaire de Recherche Scientifique (IURS) in ...

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1 اللااستثناء المغربي: حزب وجيش وقصر

 اللااستثناء المغربي: حزب وجيش وقصر (الجزء الأول) كان العام هو 1958، وكان المغرب قد دخل عامه الثاني من الاستقلال عن فرنسا، السلطان محمد الخامس يكتهل ووليّ العهد الحسن الثاني، قائد القوات الملكية المسلحة، بدأ بتأكيد سلطته سياسياً وعسكرياً. وكان الطرفان الشمالي والجنوبي من المغرب، وكلاهما معقل لجيش التحرير المغربي، خارج سيطرة القصر. حافظت أسبانيا، بقيادة فرانكو، على وجودها الاستعماري على طول حدود المغرب الشمالية والجنوبية. وأظهر المهدي بن بركة (الشخصية الوطنية المعروفة) براعة سياسية سببت نزاعاً ...

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The Ongoing, Steady Gains of Morocco's Islamist Party

Moroccans took to the polls on 4 September to vote in the first local elections since 2009. A total of about one hundred forty thousand candidates competed for around thirty-two thousand seats. These local elections were the first to take place after the new constitution in 2011, which the monarch effectively used as a way to steal the 20 February Movement’s thunder and calm the protests by seemingly giving in to some of the protestors’ demands. The new constitution and the subsequent law of ...

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The Moroccan Non-Exception: A Party, an Army, and a Palace (Part I)

[The following is the first part in the final installment of "The Moroccan Non-Exception" Jadaliyya roundtable. Read the introduction here.] The year is 1958. Morocco has entered its second year of independence from France. Sultan Mohammed V is aging and Crown Prince Hassan II, Commander of the Royal Armed Forces, is beginning to assert himself politically and militarily. The northern and southern extremities of Morocco, both strongholds of the Moroccan Liberation Army, are beyond the palace’s ...

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The Moroccan Non-Exception: A Conversation with Ahmed Marzouki, Former Tazmamart Detainee

[The following is the first installment in "The Moroccan Non-Exception" Jadaliyya roundtable. Read the introduction here.] Twenty-five years ago, Morocco seemed to embark on a serious effort to confront past human rights violations and uphold the rule of law. King Hassan II made a solemn pledge to turn the page on the “Years of Lead,” as the period of political repression is called in Morocco, and uplift the country to international human rights standards. In the early 1990s, the authorities ...

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Maghreb Media Roundup (July 22)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Maghreb and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Maghreb Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Tuesday night of every week] Algeria  A (Silicon) Valley Grows in Algeria Elizabeth Nicholas interviews several entrepreneurs on the difficulties of startups and the tech industry in ...

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Planning Beirut during the French Mandate: The Construction of a Modern City and its Legacy

Marlène Ghorayeb, Beyrouth sous mandat français, construction d’une ville moderne. Paris: Karthala, 2014.   This is a wonderful addition to our knowledge of Beirut’s early days of modern planning, during the transition from Late Ottoman to French Mandate, and later. In the lineage of Jens Hanssen’s Fin de Siècle Beirut, Eric Verdeil’s Beyrouth et ses urbanistes, Carla Eddé’s Naissance d’une capitale, and Robert Saliba’s Beyrouth architectures: Aux sources de la modernité, the book is a must-read ...

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New Texts Out Now: Hamza Hamouchene and Mika Minio-Paluello, The Coming Revolution in North Africa: The Struggle for Climate Justice

Hamza Hamouchene and Mika Minio-Paluello, editors, The Coming Revolution in North Africa: The Struggle for Climate Justice. Platform (London), Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (North Africa), and Environmental Justice North Africa (EJNA), 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you put together this book? Hamza Hamouchene and Mika Minio-Paluello (HH & MM-P): The idea was both to highlight the violence of climate change in North Africa, and the need for an indigenous response. We wanted to point out that survival ...

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Urban Governance: Field Study in Rabat and Casablanca

Fifty-two masters students from Sciences Po Paris’ “Governing the Large Metropolis” (GLM) graduate program visited the metropolitan region of Casablanca-Rabat-Salé in Morocco, from 11 to 17 January 2015. The trip aimed at understanding the metropolitan development of Casablanca, and its links with Rabat. How is this process of metropolization governed, by whom, and with which kind of outcomes? What are the priorities in terms of infrastructural policies? What is not governed? What is the role of flows ...

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Setups and Slander against Morocco's Dissidents: Sex, Drugs, Money, and Videos

A series of cases have touched resistance leaders and activists who participated or supported the 20 February Movement, from al-Adl wal-Ihsane (AWI) Islamists to members of secular institutions. Sex, financial, or drug scandals: for each activist, a "crime" was deployed to play on a taboo of their ideology in order to discredit and undermine the Moroccan version of the "Arab Spring."  On 17 March, a dozen plainclothes police officers arrested Hicham Mansouri, a journalist and ...

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The Stages of Peaceful Resistance in the Occupied Western Sahara

Introduction In any history of occupation, the forms of resistance the colonized populations adopted have been shaped by, and shape, the modes of occupations. Peaceful resistance in the Western Sahara has been no different; Saharawi methods of nonviolent protest underwent transformations, first during Spanish colonialism and throughout several phases under Moroccan occupation. The Saharawi peoples’ ongoing struggle to secure their independence has faced repressive ways and means, either during the ...

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