30 January 2013

Morocco: Moroccan Officials Discuss Security Situation

Rabat — Moroccan MPs are voicing concern about the threat of terrorism in the Maghreb.

Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane on Monday (January 28th) faced tough questions from members of Parliament regarding the country's security situation.

Parliamentarians warned about the danger of the rise of crime especially in light of the events in Sahel.

Morocco's security situation is a real concern, National Assembly of Independents deputy Naima Farrah said.

"Terrorism has turned the area into one of the most dangerous zones in the world. There is an increased presence of weapons, threats made to foreigners, kidnappings and murders," she said.

"The situation in Maghreb is complex. Until now, authorities in Morocco have been able to successfully dismantle terrorist cells," she added.

Popular Movement President Mohamed Moubdiaâ agreed and commended the security efforts put forth by the government, which according to him, helped stabilise the country while other countries are still in a state of chaos.

"Crime is still potentially on the rise in Morocco, especially terrorism. That's why we need to reinforce security services on a human resource and logistics level and fight the media alienation, poverty and unemployment and reinforce security at the borders," the parliamentarian group chief added.

Morocco is determined to reinforce international co-operation, especially on an intelligence level, in order to fight transnational crime and terrorism, Benkirane said.

"Our country was confronted with terrorism and was able to contain it. And despite recent events in the region, no one is telling anyone not to come to Morocco," Benkirane said.

Government leaders have been joining forces with Western countries in their war on terrorism and trans-border crime.

On January 25th, the interior ministers of Morocco, France, Spain and Portugal agreed in Rabat to give a "coordinated and efficient response" to the threats endangering the region.

The four ministers identified the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and illegal immigration as their priorities.

The common goal was to achieve a "better strategic, technical and operational co-operation that would specifically address all types of crime", Interior Minister Mohand Laenser said

"The events that shook the Sahel and the security challenges that arise for the countries of the region" make co-operation essential, Laenser said.

Such co-ordination can be done though intelligence exchanges, he noted. No country in the region is spared from the dangers of terrorism, political scientist Charif Joulani said.

Even if Morocco were able to counter security threats by apprehending groups that were plotting terrorist attacks, the risk is a big one and there's nothing yet to celebrate, he added.

"In order to evade extremism and obscurantism, awareness is key," Joulani said.

"On a security level, Morocco has developed a solid partnership with Western countries. Now the countries of the Maghreb region need to join forces and come up with a common strategy," he said.

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