Morocco. According to countryaah, Rabat is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Morocco. The King of Spain Juan Carlos made an official visit to Morocco. January 17-19 The visit was an expression of the improved relations between the countries, which have previously had conflicts regarding the control of an island near the Moroccan coast and the management of the many African refugees who wants to pass Morocco on his way to Europe.
More than 1,000 prisoners, accused of involvement in the terrorist attacks in Casablanca in 2003, launched a hunger strike in early May. One of the prisoners died on May 10. The prisoners reportedly demanded, among other things, that they would be released without conditions and that the assaults would be investigated by independent investigators. Over 2,100 suspects had been arrested since the attacks. Of those, 903 had been sentenced, 17 of them to death.
In early 2003, Morocco resumed diplomatic relations with Spain, which had been interrupted since 2001.
A terror attack in Casablanca in May 2003 cost 45 lives. Acc. government sources were the terrorists members of Sirat al-Mustaqim, who are part of the Salafiya-Jihadiya movement, but it was not possible to establish that al-Qaeda was involved. In the aftermath of the terrorist campaign, the Moroccan parliament passed very far-reaching terror laws, extending the concept of terrorism to all forms of disruption of public order.
In February 2004, Frente Polisario unilaterally decided to release 100 Moroccan prisoners of war as a humanitarian gesture and support for peace. With the release, a total of 1743 prisoners had been released by Polisario since 2000.
On February 24, 2004, an earthquake hit the northeast with a strength of 6.5 on the Richter scale. Its epicenter was 15 km from the town of Alhucemas. With 564 killed and 300 wounded, it was the bloodiest earthquake since 1960, when an earthquake devastated the city of Agadir in the country’s southwest, killing 12,000 people.
In July, the first US-Morocco trade agreement was signed. It removed 95% of tariffs on consumer goods and raw materials. US farmers are believed to be among the most favored by the new agreement. That same month, Morocco had hosted one of the largest NATO naval and air drills, and was also recognized by the United States for its contribution to the “fight against terrorism”.
In November, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the government of Morocco, the Center for Immigrant Rights in Rabat and several NGOs launched an information campaign to help potential immigrants know about the problems of irregular immigration and their rights in this regard. The campaign was funded by IOM and the EU. The project was part of a long-term strategy aimed at improving the preparedness of institutions, government, NGOs to promote immigrant rights.
In October 2004, Morocco accepted the repatriation of 73 Africans in Spain. Spanish King Juan Carlos had called the Moroccan King Mohamed VI three times to ask him for “help” to slow down the storm on the wall separating the two Spanish colonies in Africa, Ceuta and Melilla from Morocco. At the same time, MSF stated that about 1,000 captured immigrants transported to southern Morocco were in desperate need of water, food and blankets. However, Morocco could not allow an EU technical mission to visit the Moroccan side of the wall separating Ceuta and Melilla from Morocco. At the same time, the Moroccan Minister of Communications and Government Spokesman Nabil Benabdalá stated that the government was pursuing a “widespread autonomy for the Sahara, within the framework of Morocco’s sovereignty and respect for the territorial integrity of the kingdom”.
In October, South Africa recognized Western Sahara as an independent country. The recognition triggered a diplomatic crisis between the two countries in which Morocco recalled its ambassador.