[House Hearing, 113 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
U.S. POLICY TOWARD MOROCCO
THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS
APRIL 9, 2014
Serial No. 113-134
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
DANA ROHRABACHER, California Samoa
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio BRAD SHERMAN, California
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
TED POE, Texas GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
MATT SALMON, Arizona THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina KAREN BASS, California
ADAM KINZINGER, Illinois WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
MO BROOKS, Alabama DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
TOM COTTON, Arkansas ALAN GRAYSON, Florida
PAUL COOK, California JUAN VARGAS, California
GEORGE HOLDING, North Carolina BRADLEY S. SCHNEIDER, Illinois
RANDY K. WEBER SR., Texas JOSEPH P. KENNEDY III,
SCOTT PERRY, Pennsylvania Massachusetts
STEVE STOCKMAN, Texas AMI BERA, California
RON DeSANTIS, Florida ALAN S. LOWENTHAL, California
TREY RADEL, Florida--resigned 1/27/ GRACE MENG, New York
14 deg. LOIS FRANKEL, Florida
DOUG COLLINS, Georgia TULSI GABBARD, Hawaii
MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas
TED S. YOHO, Florida
LUKE MESSER, Indiana
Amy Porter, Chief of Staff Thomas Sheehy, Staff Director
Jason Steinbaum, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida, Chairman
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
ADAM KINZINGER, Illinois BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
TOM COTTON, Arkansas DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
RANDY K. WEBER SR., Texas ALAN GRAYSON, Florida
RON DeSANTIS, Florida JUAN VARGAS, California
TREY RADEL, Florida--resigned 1/27/ BRADLEY S. SCHNEIDER, Illinois
14 deg. JOSEPH P. KENNEDY III,
DOUG COLLINS, Georgia Massachusetts
MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina GRACE MENG, New York
TED S. YOHO, Florida LOIS FRANKEL, Florida
LUKE MESSER, Indiana
C O N T E N T S
Mr. William Roebuck, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for
Egypt and Maghreb Affairs, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S.
Department of State............................................ 6
Ms. Alina Romanowski, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for
the Middle East, U.S. Agency for International Development..... 14
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Mr. William Roebuck: Prepared statement.......................... 8
Ms. Alina Romanowski: Prepared statement......................... 16
Hearing notice................................................... 34
Hearing minutes.................................................. 35
U.S. POLICY TOWARD MOROCCO
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2014
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 3 o'clock p.m.,
in room 2167 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Ileana Ros-
Lehtinen (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. The subcommittee will come to order. We
will sadly soon be interrupted for votes, but getting
interrupted for democracy is a good thing.
After recognizing myself and Ranking Member Deutch for 5
minutes each for our opening statements, I will then recognize
other members seeking recognition for 1 minute. We will then
hear from our witnesses and without objection, the witnesses'
prepared statements will be made a part of the record and
members may have 5 days to insert statements and questions for
the record subject to the length limitation and the rules. The
chair now recognizes herself for 5 minutes.
With all the upheaval, instability, and social unrest in
the wake of the Arab Spring, Morocco is designated as a major
non-NATO ally and is working toward a political transition in
instituting democratic reforms. Three years ago, King Mohammed
proposed constitutional reforms that would push Morocco toward
democracy and reform, shifting some power that was centralized
in a monarchy to the people. This new constitution was ratified
a few months later and was succeeded by parliamentary elections
that saw a new government formed, complete with a new Prime
Minister from an opposition party with a mandate to have more
power to govern. Of course, the political situation in Morocco
is still not perfect, but it is important for us to recognize
the positive steps forward.
On the issue of the Western Sahara, long-standing U.S.
policy, which I support, advocates for a solution based on a
formula of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. While I
recognize the advancement that the kingdom has made, when it
comes to human rights, certainly more can still be done.
According to the 2013 State Department Human Rights Report on
Western Sahara, ``The most important human rights problem
specific to the territory was Moroccan Government restrictions
on the civil liberties and political rights of pro-independence
Morocco has made strides in expanding women's rights and
has created the National Council of Human Rights to evaluate
all the human rights issues. As allies, we should work together
as partners to accelerate their plans to implement the
constitutional reforms that urge gender equality and parity.
Since becoming the very first nation to formally recognize the
newly independent United States of America, Morocco and the
United States have shared a strategic and bilateral
relationship. It is one that has continued to strengthen over
the past few years as we have just seen Secretary Kerry return
from a trip in which he took part in the second round of the
U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue aimed at deepening our
bilateral cooperation on a variety of issues.
Our nation signed and implemented a free trade agreement
nearly 10 years ago and there is certainly room to grow for
both the Moroccan and U.S. economies through U.S. commercial
investment and expansion of American businesses in the Maghreb.
Last year, Morocco successfully completed a 5-year Millennium
Challenge Corporation Compact in which the U.S. helped Morocco
increase productivity, employment prospects, investment, and
economic growth. MCC concluded that the results on the compact
were impressive, given the complexity of the endeavor with tens
of thousands, mostly women, learning to read and write through
the literacy program.
So the political transition toward democracy is being
paralleled by Morocco's economic transition which is under way.
But that is contingent upon Morocco remaining a safe and stable
country and that is yet another area in which our two nations
collaborate closely. While the rest of the region struggles to
cope with radicalization and Islamic fundamentalism, Morocco is
working to foster and spread a more moderate form of Islam in
the Muslim Kingdom. One way Morocco promotes religious
moderation and tolerance is through its nearly 10-year-old
program in which it trains women in Islamic theology right
alongside their male counterparts, an idea that would not only
be taboo in many other countries in the region, but would
likely be highly illegal. While the kingdom has not been immune
to the threat of home-grown extremism, Morocco is on the front
lines of fighting terrorism throughout the region. Our two
nations work closely in this regard and Morocco has proven to
be an important ally.
One important counterterrorism effort that we can work
closely with Morocco on is the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism
Program which aims to address the potential terrorist and
security threats in Northwest Africa and the Sahel region, but
we can and must do more. The administration must continue to
see Morocco as the potential for what other North African
transitional countries can do and we must look to glean the
best practices from its approach and see how they can be
implemented in neighboring countries as well.
And with that, I turn to my good friend, the ranking
member, Mr. Deutch of Florida.
Mr. Deutch. Thank you, Madame Chairman. Thanks for holding
today's hearing. Thanks to our witnesses for being here today
to examine the long-standing United States-Morocco partnership.
And when we say long-standing, we mean it as Morocco was the
very first country to recognize a U.S. independence. It is nice
to have Ambassador Bouhlal here as well. Thank you for joining
Last November, President Obama welcomed King Mohammed to
the White House to affirm our strategic relationship and commit
to strengthen and mutual cooperation on a host of significant
issues. On the security front, Morocco has emerged as a
critical partner in our efforts to fight extremism and promote
stability in the Maghreb and in the Sahel. Morocco is one of
only two African countries to be designated as a major non-NATO
ally and is a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum.
Just last week, the United States and Morocco concluded the
annual African Lion joint military exercise with approximately
350 service members, 150 Moroccan Royal Armed Forces members
and participants from various European African partners. This
level of cooperation is paramount to confronting the threats
posed by groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb and other
al-Qaeda affiliated militias and to assist in our joint efforts
to stem weapons transfers and narcotrafficking across the
continent. It is clear that Morocco is committed to taking
substantial action to prevent Northern Africa from becoming a
safe haven for terrorist groups.
I would also like to highlight a unique initiative launched
by the king to train imams from Mali, Tunisia, Libya, Guinea
and the Ivory Coast and Morocco. It is my understanding that
the first group of 100 imams have already arrived. This is a
welcome approach to curbing the spread of extremist ideology in
a volatile region of the world.
In addition to its leadership role on regional security
matters, Morocco has pursued greater bilateral ties on economic
and development issues with many of its African neighbors. In
November, the king signed 18 agreements with Mali on a range of
issues from microfinance to energy. But Morocco still struggles
with its own economic development as the economy has been
adversely affected by the economic troubles in Europe,
Morocco's largest trading partner.
The 2011 expansion in state spending on social programs,
public hiring, and subsidies has also put a strain on the
economy. Unemployment rates among youths are estimated at 22
percent among males, and 38 percent among females. I am pleased
that one of the pillars of USAID's new country development
strategy signed in November 2013 is addressing youth
Political reforms initiated by the king in response to
unrest have seen success, and we must continue to help shepherd
along reforms that will address civil society participation.
USAID remains focused on helping to build civil society to
include expanded roles for women in a political and economic
The United States has also contributed to Morocco's
economic growth in a significant way through the completion of
a $698 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact and the
country has not been selected for a second compact.
Morocco has long played a leading role in fostering greater
cooperation between North Africa and the Middle East,
coordinating closely on farm policy matters with the Gulf
Cooperation Council. As chair of the Al-Quds Committee and the
Organization of Islamic Cooperation, we look to Morocco to play
a positive role in helping to foster continued peace talks
between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We cannot forget
that it was King Hassan that in the 1980s took the bold step of
inviting then Prime Minister Shimon Perez to Morocco for peace
talks. In that vein, many of us were concerned to see a law
proposed in Parliament late last year that would have
criminalized any normalization of relations with Israel. I hope
that we will not see any advancement of this proposal.
Finally, in advance of the king's visit last November,
Chairman Ros-Lehtinen and I reiterated our support for the
long-standing U.S. policy to support a solution to this dispute
based on a formula of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. This
policy has enjoyed the support of the last three
administrations and continues to earn strong bipartisan support
in Congress. With over 200 years of friendship between our two
countries, the U.S.-Morocco partnership will only be
strengthened by the launch of last year's strategic dialogue.
As Secretary Kerry said last week during his visit, the
strategic dialogue will contribute to the ability of the United
States and Morocco to show that we value something a lot more
powerful than our past and that is the future.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on how we can
continue to help Morocco bolster its economic and security
situation as we continue to enhance the U.S.-Morocco
partnership. I yield back.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you very much, Mr. Deutch and we
would like to acknowledge the presence of the Ambassador of the
Kingdom of Morocco to the United States. Thank you, Ambassador
Bouhlal for being with us today. You are a dear friend. Thank
you so much.
And now I am pleased to yield for his opening statement to
the chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Mr.
Chabot of Ohio.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you, Madame Chair, and thank you for
holding this hearing. We have witnessed political and
humanitarian crises all around the world in recent times, but
we don't hear that much from Morocco and maybe that is not a
bad thing. We are looking forward to hearing from our witnesses
today and getting an update on our current relationship with
the kingdom and a status report on regional political
We know that in 2011, King Mohammed responded to the on-
going Arab Spring by drafting a new constitution which was
subsequently adopted by popular referendum that afforded new
authority to elected officials. I hope our witnesses can speak
to how that reform is being carried out.
Additionally, I hope our witnesses will comment on the
performance of the Justice and Development Party and Islamist
Party which in 2012 won the largest number of parliamentary
seats in the Moroccan election. So there is a lot to talk about
and so I will stop talking and I yield back and look forward to
hearing our witnesses. Thank you.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much, Chairman Chabot. And
so pleased to yield to another Florida colleague, Lois Frankel
for her opening statement.
Ms. Frankel. Madame Chair, it is a little lonely down at
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Come in closer, come on over.
Ms. Frankel. I will. First, thank you so much for being
here. I am very interested in this, and Madame Chair, I have a
number of questions, but I would like to hear our witnesses'
testimony and then I will go forward with them.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you very much.
Ms. Frankel. Thank you.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Now we turn to Mr. Cotton for any opening
statement he would like to make. And the subcommittee is very
pleased to have a special guest with us today, Mr. Grimm, who
has been a long-time friend of Morocco and has been very much
involved in their issues. Please give an opening statement if
you could, Mr. Grimm.
Mr. Grimm. Well, thank you so much, Madame Chairwoman. As
the co-chair of the Congressional Morocco Caucus I thank you
for holding this hearing and for inviting me to be with you
today among my friends, so thank you. Morocco, it has already
been said and everyone knows, has historically been one of
America's strongest and most reliable allies. Currently, the
Kingdom of Morocco is a strong partner in combatting terrorism
throughout North Africa and Morocco is also the only country in
the African continent in which we have a free trade agreement.
So I think that is extremely important to note.
King Mohammed successfully weathered the Arab Spring mostly
by listening to the Moroccan people and making appropriate
reforms and for this I think he should be commended. As already
mentioned, Madame Chairwoman, during President Obama's recent
meeting with King Mohammed, they specifically pledged and I
quote, ``A shared commitment to advancing the peaceful
resolution to the Western Sahara issue based on autonomy under
Moroccan sovereignty.'' Well, I believe that the United States
Congress has a responsibility to assist Morocco in achieving
this resolution. The State Department, USAID, and other
development agencies in the United States Government must
devote some of their assistance funds for Morocco to projects
designed to improve the quality of life for the people of
Western Sahara. So I am very excited to be here. I thank you
again. And I am looking forward to hearing from our witnesses
today. Thank you and I yield back.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much, Mr. Grimm, and you are
always welcome to come to our subcommittee. Thank you. And we
are so pleased to welcome our excellent witnesses today. First,
we welcome Mr. William Roebuck who is the Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State for Egypt and Maghreb Affairs. Before this,
he served as Charge d'Affairs in Tripoli for 6 months from
January to June 2013 and as Director for the Office of Maghreb
Affairs in the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern
Affairs from 2010 to 2012. Welcome, Mr. Roebuck.
We also have with us Ms. Alina Romanowski. Did I do that
pretty well? I have got a difficult name so I don't worry if
someone mispronounces mine. And Ms. Romanowski is currently
Acting Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Bureau at
the U.S. Agency for International Development. Prior to this
position, Ms. Romanowski, and of course, Eddy would put her
name in every sentence here, served as Deputy Assistant
Administrator in the Middle East Bureau focusing on U.S.
assistance programs in support of political transitions in
Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco. We welcome our witnesses
and we will begin with you, Mr. Roebuck. Your prepared
statements will be made a part of the record. Please feel free
to summarize them.
STATEMENT OF MR. WILLIAM ROEBUCK, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF
STATE FOR EGYPT AND MAGHREB AFFAIRS, BUREAU OF NEAR EASTERN
AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Mr. Roebuck. Thank you very much, Chairman Ros-Lehtinen,
Ranking Member Deutch, members of the subcommittee, Congressman
Grimm, thank you very much. I am honored to appear before you
today to offer you these remarks on U.S. policy to Morocco. I
am pleased to appear with my good friend, USAID Assistant
Deputy Administrator Alina Romanowski. I have had the pleasure
of working with Alina to further our foreign policy objectives
in Morocco and in the region. We welcome the opportunity to
speak to you today and look forward to answering any questions
you might have about Morocco or our policy toward Morocco.
With your permission, I will request that my full statement
be submitted to the record. So I will just summarize here
Madame Chairman, as you know, Morocco, as several of you
have mentioned, is the first nation to have recognized the
United States in 1777. It is an important and long-standing
ally. We continue to enjoy a very strong bilateral relationship
with Morocco focused on promoting regional stability,
supporting democratic reform efforts, countering violent
extremism, and strengthening trade and cultural ties. We worked
to strengthen our relationship with Morocco during the November
2013 visit of King Mohammed VI to Washington. This visit
provided an opportunity for the United States to affirm our
close strategic partnership with Morocco and to discuss the
best means of promoting security and prosperity in the region.
We continued our conversations during the recent U.S.-
Morocco Strategic Dialogue which Secretary Kerry opened in
Rabat on April 4th. This Dialogue was originally launched 2012
and it discussed new avenues for cooperation in the political,
security, economic, educational, and cultural spheres. We are
also very pleased that our new Ambassador to Morocco, Dwight
Bush, was confirmed in March and has arrived in Rabat.
Regarding briefly democratic reforms in Morocco, under King
Mohammed VI, the Moroccan political system has gradually
liberalized. A new constitution, as several of you noted, was
adopted in 2011 and Morocco's first Islamist-led government won
nationwide democratic elections. The country moved forward in
2013 with calibrated, but steady, political and economic
reforms. We have a robust dialogue with the Moroccan Government
on human rights and on ways in which we can support this on-
going process of political reform.
Our mutual concern for peace and stability in the region
means that the United States and Morocco are fully engaged on
both economic and security cooperation. On economic
cooperation, USAID's new country development strategy directly
addresses the issue of youth employment, a key driver of
instability in the region through the creation of new
vocational programs and career centers. The United States and
Morocco also recently held the second U.S.-Morocco Business
Development Conference in Rabat with 58 American companies
participating. Regarding security cooperation, Morocco is one
of our closest counterterrorism partners. Morocco is an active
member, as you have noted, of the Trans-Saharan
Counterterrorism Partnership and also the Global
Regarding Western Sahara, the United States supports the
United Nations-led process designed to bring about a peaceful,
sustainable, and mutually acceptable solution to the Western
Sahara question. U.S. policy toward Western Sahara has remained
consistent for many years. We support the work of U.S.
Secretary General's personal envoy, former U.S. Ambassador
Chris Ross in his efforts to find a mutually-acceptable
Regarding education and cultural cooperation, the United
States and Morocco have a long history of people-to-people
ties. One recent example is Morocco's support of the J.
Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative. The initiative
is designed to fuel the largest ever growth in people-to-people
exchanges between the United States and the broader Middle
East. And Morocco has graciously committed to donate $1 million
per year over the next 5 years to this initiative.
Madame Chairman, Ranking Member Deutch, members of the
subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you
today and I look forward to answering any questions you might
have. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Roebuck follows:]
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you very much, sir.
STATEMENT OF MS. ALINA ROMANOWSKI, DEPUTY ASSISTANT
ADMINISTRATOR, BUREAU FOR THE MIDDLE EAST, U.S. AGENCY FOR
Ms. Romanowski. Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member
Deutch, members of the subcommittee, and Congressman Grimm,
thank you for inviting me here today to discuss how USAID
continues to support U.S. foreign policy and development
objectives in Morocco. And I am very pleased to be here also
with my colleague, Bill Roebuck, with whom I work closely every
For the past 56 years, we have partnered with the
Government of Morocco to build a strong relationship that
focuses on promoting economic growth, improving educational
opportunities, and strengthening the effectiveness of civil
society. During this time, we have worked to make substantial
improvements in the lives of everyday Moroccans including
improving maternal and child health, constructing two major
dams, transforming thousands of semi-arid acres into productive
agricultural land, and helping Morocco's microfinance sector.
We are proud and remain committed to this partnership which
is why during the visit of King Mohammed VI to Washington last
year, USAID and the Government of Morocco jointly launched a
new 5-year country development strategy. Developed in
collaboration with the Moroccan Government, civil society, and
the private sector, the new strategy responds to the needs of
Moroccan citizens and focuses on three key objectives,
increasing youth employment, enhancing civic participation in
governance, and improving education for children in primary
schools. As we focus on these three objectives, we recognize
that we must be strategic in our investments amid an
increasingly strained budget outlook. Therefore, we are
focusing like never before on strengthening alliances with key
regional allies and building public-private partnerships with
such entities as Microsoft, Volvo, and Chevron.
USAID's economic growth programs are aimed at directly
addressing youth unemployment. Young people make up about 30
percent of Morocco's population. That is about 10 million
people. Large numbers of Moroccan graduates are unable to find
jobs commensurate with their education and training, while
employers complain of skills, shortages, and mismatches.
Without a trained workforce, capable of increasing
productivity, Morocco cannot generate sufficient prosperity
through private sector growth. To address this and other
obstacles, USAID is launching the Youth Employability Project.
This new initiative will facilitate partnerships between
government ministries, Moroccan universities, and technical
institutes, as well as local NGOs and the private sector to
create workforce development services for a broad range of
youth. For example, we are currently working with 40 startup
Moroccan businesses to locate new markets and realize
sustainable revenue flows.
In the Democracy and Governance sector, USAID is responding
directly to the Government of Morocco's push to strengthen
political parties and increase the roles of civil society
organizations in the political process. We are currently
working with more than 80 local governments to create platforms
for dialogue between Moroccan citizens and their locally
elected officials, especially for youth and women.
USAID's third strategic focus in Morocco is improving
primary school education. USAID has improved quality and access
to elementary and middle school, especially for rural girls.
Enrollment of girls in rural areas increased from 62 percent in
2000 to 83 percent in 2004, but despite these gains, Morocco
still faces an overall literacy rate of only 55 percent. In
conjunction with Morocco's own education reform effort, USAID
is targeting early grade reading. These programs are designed
to improve early literacy and help curb primary grade dropout
rates. USAID is also implementing innovative community and
school-driven development projects in over 190 schools.
Finally, USAID is also responding to a critical challenge
of countering violent extremism. In those programs, we target
areas in Morocco where youth suffer from social, economic, and
political disaffection and exclusion. These areas are known
recruitment grounds for violent extremist and transnational
terrorist networks. Our program is aimed at reintegrating at-
risk youth into mainstream society, given Moroccan youth a
voice, and opportunities in their communities.
So in conclusion, USAID is proud of the strong relationship
we have built with the Government of Morocco over the past 56
years. Morocco continues to face significant challenges, but
also significant opportunities. USAID programs will continue to
provide assistance that will increase employment opportunities
for Moroccan youth, build the reading skills of Moroccan
children and advance participatory governance in addition to
countering violent extremist threats and strengthening regional
stability and security.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today,
and we are looking forward to answering your questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Romanowski follows:]
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you. And thank you to both of you
for excellent testimony. We will begin our question and answer
As we have said, the U.S. and Morocco share a strategic and
dynamic bilateral relationship. In the omnibus bill that we
passed in January, Congress authorized that funds designated
for Morocco could also be used in the Western Sahara for
literacy training programs. The bill requests that a report
from the State Department on this issue and the report is due
next week. Can you describe what the report will entail and if
it will be delivered on time?
Then on the threat of fundamentalism in the area, the
threat of radical Islam and extremism spreading through North
Africa and indeed throughout the entire African continent is a
very real threat and a cause for alarm. That is why the United
States has put such an emphasis on working with Morocco to
counter these threats.
How would you describe the cooperation with Morocco on the
counterterrorism front? Is it as good as it can be? Is it
getting better? Are you satisfied with it? And to what extent
are programs like the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Program
working? What more needs to be done both on Morocco's side and
the U.S. side to improve it?
And as we discussed just last week, Secretary Kerry was in
Rabat to take part in the second round of the U.S.-Morocco
Strategic Dialogue. Can you briefly explain what came out of
that latest round in the dialogue? What did we achieve? What
did we accomplish? And what challenges still remain? Thank you.
Mr. Roebuck. Thank you, Madame Chairwoman. I will start
maybe in reverse order and work my way back up. The Strategic
Dialogue was a big success. Secretary Kerry opened it. We had a
strong team that came out from the State Department that
participated in it. The purpose of this dialogue is to
accentuate and highlight the strong strategic partnership we
have with Morocco and we focus on a range of areas, three
working groups in particular: Political security, economic and
commercial cooperation, and education and cultural cooperation.
I think we made strong steps forward in all three of these
groups. The political and security group, there was a robust
discussion of Morocco's progress on domestic reforms and also
encouragement from Morocco's efforts on counterterrorism. The
economic and commercial cooperation group discussed promoting
regional economic integration and also Morocco and the U.S.
trade investment relationship and particularly trying to
strengthen the benefits for Morocco of the U.S.-Morocco free
On education and cultural cooperation, as I mentioned
earlier, there was a discussion of the Chris Stevens Virtual
Exchange Initiative, efforts to improve on interfaith dialogue
and understanding, and a discussion of various educational and
cultural exchange programs we have with Morocco, including for
example, the Fulbright program.
On the threat of fundamentalism and extremism in Morocco
and in the region at large, I share your concern, Madame
Chairman. This is not a new phenomenon. This is something that
has been developing in the region over the past decade really.
It has been fed in some ways in the past several years by
developments in Mali, in the wider Sahel, and also in Libya
where there has been a deteriorating security situation in the
past 2\1/2\ years. We work very closely with Morocco on
counterterrorism. I think that our partnership is quite strong.
We have a number of programs, a number of vehicles that we use
to fund these programs. Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism
Partnership is one. We use funding through NADR as well as INL
money to--it is focused primarily on strengthening Morocco's
law enforcement and criminal justice system. It also provides
training for law enforcement people who are involved in
antiterrorism efforts to strengthen their professionalism and
strengthen their efforts with things like Internet, forensic
investigation, the ability to do criminal investigations in
general and use these types of law enforcement tools as a means
for combatting terrorism.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you very much. And I apologize, my
time is up. Thank you very much.
Mr. Deutch is recognized.
Mr. Deutch. Thank you, Madame Chairman. Deputy Assistant
Secretary Roebuck, just to follow up on this discussion,
clearly, security cooperation is a critical component of the
relationship. And you had included in your testimony the figure
of 49 percent of Moroccan youth are neither in school nor in
the workforce which is a staggering figure, I think. I know we
share concerns with Morocco that some segments of that
population might be vulnerable to extremist recruitment. The
porous borders of North Africa make it easy to say, go be paid
to fight in Syria for a few months, come back to Morocco. Can
you discuss ways in which the U.S. and Morocco are working
together to address that specific security concern?
Mr. Roebuck. The issue of foreign fighters?
Mr. Deutch. Yes.
Mr. Roebuck. The United States and Morocco work closely on
this. This is largely an effort that has to be directed by
Morocco, but we consult with the Moroccan Government closely on
this issue. We recognize that it is a serious issue for the
Morocco Government. A lot of it has to do with the need for a
multi-faceted approach to this and to a counterterrorism
approach in general and this is what the Moroccan Government
has in place. Part of their focus is I would call it vigilant
security efforts or operational efforts. Part of it is
* (3:38:56) deg.side efforts through countering
violent extremism with education. Part of it is focused on
education and socio-economic assistance.
I think Morocco has a broad, focused counterterrorism
policy and that is what they use to address this particular
issue that you focused on which is foreign fighters going to
Syria and coming back. I can give you more detail if you would
like it, but that is the general approach that they use and we
are very supportive of it.
Mr. Deutch. I appreciate that. Ms. Romanowski, I was
pleased to see USAID placing such great emphasis in the new
country development cooperation strategy on youth unemployment
which was mentioned earlier was around 30 percent. We know the
major cause of the unrest in 2011 came from disaffected youth.
Morocco recently announced ambitious plans to build up industry
and create \1/2\ million new sustainable jobs by 2020 and to
significantly increase the share of industry in GDP to 23
percent versus the 14 percent today.
How will USAID's programs work in concert with this new
initiative and are we going to have to realign some of our
programming in light of that effort?
Ms. Romanowski. Thank you for the question, sir. I think we
have already realigned our programs in a sense through the
conversation, the dialogue we have had with the Government of
Morocco when we built this new 5-year development strategy. And
specifically in our economic program, the Employability, we are
focusing on bringing universities and vocational school
students and the private sector and the government to find ways
that we can improve employment skills of these young people and
then offer them actual centers where they can do that and also
where the private sector can come together. So this
conversation, this particular program that we are focusing on
is doing exactly that. And it is not out of sync with, I think,
supporting what their efforts are trying to do in attracting
Mr. Deutch. Great. And finally, another focus of USAID is
increasing civic participation, particularly for women and as
part of a series of electoral reforms, Parliament now has a 66
quota for women. I would like for you to just talk about the
trend lines that you are seeing among women in politics, how do
we get there, how do meet those goals?
Ms. Romanowski. I think the trend lines in Moroccan
politics for women are positive. In the last two visits or
three visits I have been to Morocco, I have met many of the
women parliamentarians and politicians and those who are active
in politics, both at the local level and at the national level
and both through our programs, the local governance program and
also through our political party strengthening. We are making
sure that not just women, but also young women and young men
are part of reaching out and getting a more active
participation. So in the many years I have been working in
Morocco in this area, I see that there is a lot of interest in
women to come into politics, which is always a good thing.
Mr. Deutch. Great. Thank you. Thank you, Madame Chairman.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Mr. Deutch. Subcommittee Chair
Chabot is recognized.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you, Madame Chair. Morocco has been
supportive of the Arab-Israeli peace negotiations. And recently
an anti-Israel group, the Moroccan Observatory Against
Normalization, an organization that is working to end commerce
and international ties between Israel and Morocco, published a
list of people and institutions it accuses of collaboration
with the Jewish state. How has King Mohammed and the Moroccan
Government responded to this? Is this group a cause for concern
that could negatively affect Moroccan-Israeli relations? And
what steps can the administration take or has it taken to
ensure that productive relations between Israel and Morocco
Mr. Roebuck. Thank you, Congressman Chabot. Morocco and
Israel have a long history of positive relations. With regard
to these developments that you have pointed to, our review is
that these efforts have stalled and they are likely to--we
think they will stay stalled. We believe that the values in
Morocco of religious interfaith dialogue and religious
tolerance will triumph. We know that there have been efforts to
move a piece of legislation which is similar to what you are
referring to. That effort has stalled. I believe that King
Mohammed IV and the Government of Morocco have worked very hard
to foster an atmosphere of religious tolerance and interfaith
understanding that will prevent such measures from moving
Mr. Chabot. Thank you. We know there are a lot of bad
actors in the region and that Moroccan authorities have taken a
proactive approach to countering the presence of extremists
ideologies in the country. Could either of you comment on some
of the successful elements of their counterterrorism programs?
Mr. Roebuck. I will start, Congressman Chabot and Alina, if
you would like to say something, you are welcome to.
As we mentioned earlier in my testimony, the Moroccans have
been very effective counterterrorism partners. The reason that
they have been effective is that they developed a strategy that
has several different elements to it, all of which are proven
elements that are effective in countering terrorism. It is not
just operational, although that is a piece of it. The Moroccan
Government has also been very good at developing programs
designed to counter balance extremism. It builds off of the
Moroccan Government effort and the King's effort to promote a
tolerant, moderate brand of Islam in the kingdom. They have
made efforts to train imams, religious leaders, from
neighboring countries in ways that would encourage political
moderation and religious moderation including a large number of
imams from nearby Mali where there have been a lot of problems
with these extremists.
So the bottom line is that they have been very effective
because they have used tools in the tool kit. In addition, they
have been very active as regional international partners,
cooperating on counterterrorism, both with our efforts on the
Global Counterterrorism Forum and the Trans-Saharan
Counterterrorism Partnership and working with their neighbors,
they posted a border conference for Libya and they have done
other things on foreign fighters working with The Netherlands.
So across a wide range of fronts, they have taken action on all
of them. That is why they have been effective. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you, sir. Ms. Romanowski.
Ms. Romanowski. I would point in addition to our broader
workforce development program for young people, I would point
to two other programs. One is our civic participation program
that focuses on marginalized urban youth where we are working
with the local governance structures and elected officials to
better focus on being responsive to the concerns of young
people, particularly marginalized youth in their areas.
And then the second one which is very specific to two areas
where I think we and the Government of Morocco have identified
as being particularly regions of struggle and that is in the
neighborhood of Tangier and Tetouan where we have focused a
youth program that responds to those specific neighborhoods in
trying to again bring out the voices and make the marginalized
youth much more confident that they can be a participatory and
a constructive voice even in their local neighborhoods.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you. In the time that I have remaining, I
would like to turn briefly to trade. Some argue that the U.S.-
Moroccan trade agreement limits stronger economic integration
between Morocco and other African nations. Would you agree with
that? And do you believe that the U.S. and Morocco, that both
countries have mutually benefitted from our trade partnership?
And what does the future of U.S.-Moroccan trade relations look
like, in 17 seconds.
Mr. Roebuck. Thank you, Congressman. I think the free trade
agreement has been a huge benefit for both sides. The United
States has benefitted somewhat more in the initial years than
the Moroccans, but both sides have seen huge increases in
bilateral trade. I do not believe that it has been a hindrance
to Moroccan trade with the region and I think they have a huge,
bright future trading with us and with other partners. They are
a hub for Europe, but also for Africa and we are working with
them to strengthen the ways in which they can benefit from our
free trade agreement. Thank you.
Mr. Chabot. Well done. You took 41 seconds, but well done.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Very good. Thank you. I am looking
forward to reading your article Bloomsday in Baghdad, Reading
Joys in Iraq. I am going to look that up.
Ms. Frankel. Thank you, Madame Chair. And a number of my
questions were answered. Thank you. First, I want to follow up
on Mr. Deutch's question about women. I understand that 3 years
ago when Morocco adopted a new constitution it guaranteed
gender equality. However, I am told that there is still not the
equality the women would like. For example, I think the legal
marriage age was raised from 15 to 18, but a judge can still
grant and do grant permission for marriages at a much younger
age and also that there are inheritance laws that still favor
men. I don't know, those are just a couple of examples. But I
wanted to know what your opinion is on the status of women in
Thank you for sharing with us some of the programs that
USAID and others are putting into effect, I guess to counter a
possible Arab Spring and to minimize terrorism. I want to know
whether there are any measures of effectiveness, any measures
to see whether or not any of these programs are being
And last question is and this is also a followup, if you
could say a little bit more as to the strategic importance of
Morocco, explaining why we are putting these efforts into
Morocco and their relationship to their neighboring African
Mr. Roebuck. Thank you. Thank you, Congresswoman. On the
issue of reform in women's position in society, I would say
that it is a work in progress in Morocco with regard to reform
for women's rights and reform writ large. The Moroccans
embarked on a major reform in 2003 and 2004 that benefitted
women, the reform of their family code. It strengthened
provisions relating to inheritance, divorce, child custody and
similar type provisions. The 2011 constitution strengthened
further some of those reforms and made constitutionally clear
the equality between men and women. But some of the issues that
you raise, child marriage, the low age for women that can be
married remain a problem and I think the Moroccan Government is
aware of it, but our sense is that they are reform oriented.
They want to make improvements. They are continuing to do this
and what we have seen in the last decade really is a steady
move of progress.
One of the human rights people who went out in 2012, noted
an emerging culture of human rights in Morocco. For example, it
is just another example of the type of reform that has been
available to witness out there.
Just a word on the strategic importance of Morocco in the
region and Alina, I will let you say something if you would
like to on the effectiveness of our programs. We have a
strategic relationship with Morocco because it is such an
important country in the region. Its geographic location is
very important. It is involved in one of the major conflict
areas, the Western Sahara, which is important and is creating
some issues with Algeria. Morocco is a key country for us in
helping to counter violent extremism. It is a critical partner
in that and it is a critical trade partner. And it is a
critical country as a voice of moderate Islam. For all those
reasons, it is a very important strategic partner for the
United States. Thank you, ma'am.
Ms. Romanowski. On the issue of measuring effectiveness and
our monitoring evaluation, we do monitor and evaluate our
programs and in fact, the opportunity to do a new 5-year
country strategy afforded us that opportunity to go back and
review the programs that we were working and where we felt they
needed to really shift and keep up with what the changes that
were going on in Morocco. That is what caused us really to redo
the economic growth piece to focus on the workforce
On our political and democracy and governance programs, we
realized we needed to continue to strengthen those institutions
that are part of that political process, like political
parties, strengthen the local governance and work specifically
again to continue to support the engagement of young people as
well as women in politics and in the political process. We do
continue and will continue to strongly monitor our program.
Ms. Frankel. Thank you, Madame Chair.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Ms. Frankel. And I thank Mr.
Weber for being nice enough to allow me jump him in turn
because Mr. Grimm needs to get back to his subcommittee.
So Mr. Grimm is recognized for 5 minutes. Thank you for
Mr. Grimm. Thank you for having me, Chairman. Thank you,
Mr. Weber. I appreciate the courtesy. Thank you to the
I would like to step back for a second and just expand a
little bit. The chairwoman mentioned before about the report,
obviously, in the omnibus in January Congress authorized the
funds designated for Morocco. It could also be used for the
Western Sahara Literacy Training Program and my understanding
is that that report is due to Congress next week, Mr. Roebuck.
As far you know, is it on schedule to be delivered next week?
Mr. Roebuck. Yes, sir. We are preparing the report and it
will be delivered in compliance with the law.
Mr. Grimm. Is there any way you can thumbnail, obviously, I
am not looking for details, but just give me some idea of what
to expect, any highlights of what we can expect to see in that
Mr. Roebuck. I think the report will describe our efforts
to provide assistance to Morocco and it will outline some of
the areas where we have provided that assistance addressing the
particular areas that the legislation wants to see more
information on. And it will make the point with regard to
assistance for Morocco that would be used in the Western
Sahara, the United States, our policy is that we should not
take any actions that would be perceived as undermining our
support for the U.N.-led mediation process and that is a pillar
of our policy. And the report would include that point.
Mr. Grimm. Thank you. I appreciate that. Changing gears a
little bit, as a member that represents New York City,
financial services industry is an area of great interest to me,
so I am very happy to see that Morocco is becoming a
destination for many U.S. companies, not just as an export
market, but also as a platform for exports into Africa, Europe,
and broader Middle East. The new Casablanca finance city
project is poised to become I think one of the central economic
hubs for international companies that are looking or are
already doing business throughout the African continent.
Is there anything that you can tell us about how American
companies are using Morocco both as an export market, but also
as a gateway to the entire region?
Mr. Roebuck. Thank you, Congressman. I would say just in
short that the primary way that American companies so far are
working in Morocco is to use the huge vehicle of the free trade
agreement which has been in place and entered into force in
2006 which gives U.S. companies an ability to invest in Morocco
and to export there. It also, in turn, gives Morocco the
opportunity to do the same here. I think that is the big
benefit and that is where we are focusing. We have also
recently signed when King Mohammed VI was here a trade
facilitation agreement which will further shore up those
efforts. Thank you.
Mr. Grimm. Ms. Romanowski, anything you would like to add?
Ms. Romanowski. In my most recent conversations with
Moroccan businessman, and that was Friday night while I was
there for the strategic dialogue, it was very clear that they
were looking to some of our programs to be able to help them
build a stronger network with American companies and they were
very conscious of the fact that American companies were coming
into Morocco. So I think that they were looking forward to it
and I think the trend is very positive.
Mr. Grimm. Great. Thank you, again. I am going to yield
back the rest of my time.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you very much.
Mr. Grimm. Thank you, Madame Chairwoman.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thanks for joining us and thanks for your
leadership with the Moroccan caucus.
And now I am thrilled--we will recognize, Mr. Connolly, I
Mr. Connolly. No, no, thrilled, keep going.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. What a thrill it is to recognize Mr.
Connolly of Virginia for his question and answer period.
Mr. Connolly. Thank you, Madame Chairman. A welcome to the
panel. Let me ask Mr. Roebuck what has been the impact of the
repression and military crackdown in Egypt on both the Moroccan
Government and to the extent we know it, public opinion of
Mr. Roebuck. Thank you, sir. For the question. It is
probably--it might be a little difficult for me to assess that
directly, but I will say based on my read of the region in
general, people in the region have looked very closely at what
has happened in Egypt. They have taken note. I think, for
example, in Tunisia, some of the political parties watched very
carefully what happened in Egypt. It probably made them more
flexible maybe in the types of national dialogue talks that
they were having and helped lead to a breakthrough with a new
government and a new constitution.
Morocco was in a little different situation. It didn't have
elections approaching in the fall when a lot of this was going
on. I suspect the people in Morocco are concerned about what is
going on in Egypt and they are looking at it very carefully. It
may be causing them to reevaluate some of their conceptions
about the Arab Spring and about democratic evolution and how
fast it can happen and how some of the possible side effects of
that type of turmoil. But a lot of those effects, at least in
Morocco, are not as visible as they might be in some of the
other countries in North Africa. I took a stab at answering
your question. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Connolly. I think it behooves us to sort of look at
that question because hopefully Morocco and the Moroccan
Government and the Moroccan people look at that and go, that is
not where we want to go for lots of different reasons with lots
of different dynamics, but let me ask you about--where is the
Polisario right now? What is their political standing? What is
their appeal? What influence, if any, do they have in the
western part of the country?
Mr. Roebuck. The Polisario is a long-standing political
organization that represents residents of Western Sahara who
have advocated for independence.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. If you could speak a little bit closer to
Mr. Connolly. You need to speak closer to the mic, Mr.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. It is hard to hear.
Mr. Roebuck. Sorry.
Mr. Connolly. And Madame Chairman if I could have that 1
minute and 50 seconds back.
Mr. Roebuck. The Polisario is the political organization
that advocates for independence and for a referendum in Western
Sahara. I think their influence is somewhat circumscribed in
the last decade. I think----
Mr. Connolly. Well, all right, Mr. Roebuck. I am old enough
to remember when the Spanish gave it us.
Mr. Roebuck. Right.
Mr. Connolly. And I am old enough to remember when
Polisario emerged as a political force of some sort.
Mr. Roebuck. Right.
Mr. Connolly. What we are trying to get at here is are they
stronger? Are they weaker? Are their tentacles growing? Are
they retreating? Are they actually kind of a fringe force at
this point? Has the Moroccan Government been able to exercise
sovereignty in a meaningful and real way that is recognized and
respected by the people who live in the western part of the
country or what?
Mr. Roebuck. Thank you, Congressman. It is a conflict that
is an area that remains sort of conflict. You know, there are
two parties to it. The United States' view is that those
parties have to reach a mutually agreed upon solution. In
answer to your question about are they weaker or are they
stronger, I think probably over the past decade or so, they
have gotten weaker, I am not sure politically. I am just
speculating there. But they remain a key party in that conflict
and our view is that the parties have to reach a solution and
it can't be one that is imposed. So weaker or not, they remain
a party to the conflict and we support a process that would be
a U.N.-lead negotiations process between them and the Moroccan
In terms of sovereignty, the territory of Western Sahara is
considered by the U.N. as a non-self governing territory.
Morocco exercises a non-official, sort of an administrator for
its part of the territory, but it is not recognized by the U.N.
as an official administering power for the Western Sahara. The
key point for us is that this has got to be done through a
Mr. Connolly. Just one more question if I may, Madame
Chairman. Does anybody think Western Sahara could actually
function as an independent sovereign state viably?
Mr. Roebuck. It is a difficult question to answer. I think
in terms of explaining our policy, we don't sort of reach that
level of inquiry. We prefer to focus on a process that lets the
parties reach a solution, rather than looking at the situation
and saying well, this side of the conflict doesn't have a
viable solution to it, if you see what I am saying.
Mr. Connolly. Not really. I mean what is so hard about the
United States Government deciding in our humble opinion Country
X could never stand alone as a sovereign state viably? Why
can't we make that decision from time to time? We don't have
Mr. Roebuck. Right. I suppose we could, but we haven't
reached that decision.
Mr. Connolly. We have not reached that decision.
Mr. Roebuck. No. Our policy is not based on that type of
conclusion. It is based on a process where the parties who are
involved in a conflict have to reach a negotiated settlement.
Mr. Connolly. Does the Moroccan Government agree with that
Mr. Roebuck. You might want to ask Ambassador Bouhlal who
is here. I think the Moroccans have put forward a proposal
which is autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty as their solution
to that conflict. We believe that is a serious, realistic, and
credible proposal. It is a potential approach to address the
concerns of the people of Western Sahara and help them to live
their lives in justice and dignity. So we think it is a
potential approach. But in the end, we don't believe you can
Mr. Connolly. Of course. Thank you. My time is up.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Mr. Connolly. Mr. Weber. Thank
you for your patience. Thank you.
Mr. Weber. Thank you. Gosh, so many questions. Morocco
receives substantial U.S. development aid in bilateral trade
investment and that has increased following a 2006 free trade
agreement. Our trade partnership with Morocco has increased
following 2006 free trade agreement. How much?
Mr. Roebuck. Our trade has increased about 400 percent.
Mr. Weber. Would you put in that in dollars?
Mr. Roebuck. I am not sure I have the dollar value, but it
is a big increase on both sides. It has increased about 400
percent for the United States and between 150 and 200 percent
on the Moroccan side. So it has been a big benefit for both,
but a bigger benefit so far for U.S. exports and we are working
with the Moroccans through our commercial law development
program, through USAID, through the Millennium Challenge
Corporation to even that out with some competitiveness efforts
so that Moroccans can equally benefit from that.
Mr. Weber. I saw that Morocco recently concluded a 5-year
$697.5 million MCC compact which focused on alleviating poverty
and all these goals. Successful?
Mr. Roebuck. I think it was very successful. Our
assessment, it focused on sustainable tourism, sustainable
fisheries and agriculture. It educated with basic literacy
about 40,000 relatively poor people who were involved in those
three fields. Eighty percent of those people were women. It
helped build a tourist infrastructure in Fez Medina and also
focused a little bit to a certain degree on financial services
in a few other areas.
Morocco was recently reselected for a second compact. I
think many people were impressed with the way it engaged on
this Millennium Challenge Corporation with its institutions and
its sort of enthusiasm. And we are moving forward with shaping
a second compact for Morocco.
Mr. Weber. I saw that and then my further reading it said
that the bicameral legislature consisted of chamber of
counselors who are indirectly elected and a chamber of reps who
are directly elected. Explain that to me.
Mr. Roebuck. The chamber that is directly elected, that is
the parliamentary elections that took place in 2011.
Mr. Weber. Was it like the senators in our original
constitution? They were elected by the states, similar?
Mr. Roebuck. It is a similar election. They indirectly
elected people, it is more of an appointment, basically. A lot
of them are appointed.
Mr. Weber. Okay. And I noticed that I think one of my
colleagues over on the other side alluded to the women's, the
improvement of women's socio-economic rise was the 2004
revision of the Family Code that aimed to improve women's
socio-economic rights. Has that been successful? Can you give
me a status update or Ms. Romanowski, is that your bailiwick?
Ms. Romanowski. Well, actually, I think it is everyone's
Mr. Weber. Okay.
Ms. Romanowski. Of engaging Moroccans and supporting
Moroccan women and their rights. And through our programs we
ensure that all of the USAID programs make sure that women are
included and supported and specifically when it comes to our
democracy and governance, we are making sure that women who
want to be, who get into politics have the kind of training and
skills and have the advantage and also in our economic
workforce development project.
Mr. Weber. So you all feel that it has been successful?
Ms. Romanowski. Yes. There is a lot more work to do. That
is true across the region. But I think Morocco actually stands
out as making some----
Mr. Weber. Let me move on. I am running out of time here.
Further my reading, it says that in talking about the division
between Western Sahara and Morocco, that there were some who
were concerned that Western Sahara would actually become a
training ground for terrorists and that they were concerned
about those coming back from Iraq and even that--some of those
Western Sahara potential terrorists had been trained in Western
Europe? Is that right? Are you aware of that, Mr. Roebuck?
Mr. Roebuck. Thank you, Congressman, for that question. I
am not aware of that report. Our general assessment of the
Western Sahara is as follows. It is a large space. We don't
think that it is good for a space that big to be an ungoverned
space. That is why we support the U.N. being there with the
MINURSO organization. But in terms of what you are talking
about which is some sort of ties between terrorists and the
people in the Western Sahara, to our knowledge, we are not
aware of significant terrorist activity in the Western Sahara
and we are not aware of links between, for example, the
Polisario, and terrorist organizations like the ones you have
Mr. Weber. And then one final question, if I may, Madame
Chair. In talks about recent congressional actions, Morocco and
the Polisario have advocates on both sides, directly appeal to
Congress to support their positions on the Western Sahara. Many
Members of Congress support Morocco's position asserting
sovereignty over the territory. So I don't mean to put you on
the spot, but how many Members of Congress support that
position, do you know?
Mr. Roebuck. I do not, sir. I don't know exactly what the
numbers would be. As I mentioned to Congressman Connolly, I
mean our review is the issue of sovereignty is something that
should be resolved through negotiations with the parties, but
both sides have put forth proposals. We think that the Moroccan
proposal is very serious, credible, and realistic. But in the
end, we can't impose it.
Mr. Weber. Okay, then forgive me one more question. Does
the U.N. recognize Western Sahara as a what?
Mr. Roebuck. It is a non-self governing territory.
Mr. Weber. A non-self governing territory.
Mr. Roebuck. That is the official, legal definition the
U.N. uses to describe it.
Mr. Weber. I think some might describe Congress as that. So
Madame Chair, I yield back.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much to our witnesses. Thank
you to the audience, especially to our members. And with that,
the subcommittee is adjourned. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
[Whereupon, at 4:13 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the RecordNotice deg.