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Despite Morocco’s many legal advances in women’s rights, its lack of effective implementation and the existence of legislative loopholes undermines its reputation as an open, tolerant, and progressive country. In recent months, Morocco’s human rights record has come under the scrutiny of international organizations, notably the UN Human Rights Council latest UPR. Morocco’s questionable human rights—and specifically, women’s rights—abuses are a liability to its role as a US ally, a relationship that offers trade, investment, military, and diplomatic benefits to the nation.

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On Sunday, the Trump Administration suspended non-immigrant visas for Turkish citizens. Students, patients seeking American medical treatment, tourists, and business travelers from Turkey will be denied entry until further notice. A previous argument indicated that US President Donald Trump is closing America’s doors to the world—be it with travel bans for mostly Muslim-majority countries, a historically low refugee cap, or ending protections on undocumented young immigrants. The latest move, though, targets a key NATO ally and partner in the fight against terrorism, and undermines an already tense relationship.

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The demonstrations, police repression, and continued violence in al-Hoceima in the northern Rif region of Morocco bring back not only the rebellious past of that region, but also memories among Moroccans of Hassan II’s repression—the so-called years of lead. The events also bring the country full circle back to the beginning of the Arab uprising of 2011 when optimists viewed Mohammed VI’s reasoned reaction to the February 20 uprising as a sign that Morocco had indeed taken a different path from the one taken by the fallen leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and the still standing one in Syria.

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When the extremist group known as the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) was expelled from the northern city of Mosul, locals there were happy. But now, not so much, says Qassim Badran, a former employee of the local power department. The government stopped paying his salary back in 2014 when the Islamic State, or IS, group, took over the city. Even though the federal government said they would start paying civil servants again—and there are many of these because the Iraqi government is the country’s major employer—no money has arrived for Badran and he’s been busy setting up a small store in his garden, so he can actually make some kind of living.

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Despite the signing of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) in Skhirat in 2015, the political situation in Libya appears no closer to being resolved. Indeed, there is now a widening consensus within Libya and among concerned states that the LPA must be amended. Over the last two years, cleavages within Libya deepened amid exacerbating interference from regional and international powers with divergent interests in the conflict. The fractured state of politics at the national level delayed top-down approaches to recovery and reconstruction. As an interim step, in concert with broader efforts to reform the LPA, UN negotiators should consider a process of devolving some power in Libya to local governing bodies.

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Monday’s referendum in Kurdistan resulted in a situation whereby all parties lack good options. To be sure, Masoud Barzani, the leader of Kurdistan Region Government (KRG), achieved some immediate political gains. He managed to mobilize his base by calling for and conducting the referendum despite international objections. In doing so, he strengthened his political stance and forced his Kurdish rivals to follow his leadership, which itself is legally dubious since his term was extended via a partisan agreement of ambiguous legal basis. Though the results are still not finalized, the vote was expected to give a clear ‘yes’ to the call for independence. Now comes the difficult question: what is Barzani going to do with the referendum and its outcome?

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Once the United States fully committed to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh), the ultimate demise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria was never in question. The issue was what to do the ‘day after’ ISIS: specifically, how to transition to a post-ISIS Middle East and to confront the enduring sectarian issues and ethnic fault lines gave rise to ISIS in the first place.

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Even the most pessimistic political leaders in Hamas could not have foreseen the repercussions of the involvement of Gazan Salafi jihadists in an Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) operation targeting an Egyptian security checkpoint at al-Barth (south of Rafah in Sinai) on July 7, 2017. The timing is critical because Hamas-Egyptian relations are experiencing an unprecedented breakthrough by trying to enforce stricter procedures to control the borders with Egypt and has arrested dozens of pro-Islamic State Palestinians in Gaza. Additionally, Hamas responded positively to Egyptian efforts towards achieving national reconciliation with the Fattah movement. Furthermore, Hamas announced the dissolution of the administrative committee that it had formed to administer Gaza strip. It also stated its readiness to formulate a national unity government.  

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Despite the two previous unsuccessful attempts to pass a draft resolution to establish a UN independent international investigation commission into possible Yemen war crimes, sixty-seven Human Rights groups recently initiated another call demanding the establishment of the inquiry commission. The call for a commission is unlikely to be successful, but if it is formed it runs the risk of being hijacked by state interests and failing to hold accountable certain actors, particularly members of the Saudi-led coalition who wield influence at the United Nations.

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 US President Donald Trump waived economic sanctions on Iran’s banks and oil exports on September 14, as part of a law passed by Congress in 2015, following the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement—or Iran nuclear deal. The law requires every 120 days for the US president to decide whether to waive the renewal of economic sanctions. The more significant deadline in October is whether Iran is in compliance with the deal and which Trump seems intent on ending the agreement. The ever-mounting aggressive rhetoric and actions of the current US administration towards Iran signal a potential shift in the Obama legacy of the Iran deal. The US could further disrupt the balance in the region if it ends the Iran deal, yet in stark contrast, European allies continue to advocate for a pragmatic solution to save it.

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