One of the main groups organizing protests against the pro-Western king of Morocco is funded by philanthropist George Soros and the U.S. State Department.
Soros’ Open Society Institute also has funded opposition groups across the Middle East and North Africa, including organizations involved in the current chaos.
The Human Rights Education Associates opened its offices in Morocco in 2004 with funds provided by both the State Department and the Open Society Institute.
It was a key supporter of Sunday’s protests in Morocco demanding that King Mohammed VI’s powers be limited while pushing for constitutional reforms that would allow opposition parties to join the government.
The banned Islamist Justice and Charity is believed to be the country’s biggest opposition force. It joined together this past Sunday with a coalition of leftist parties that held mass protests in cities across Morocco that turned violent.
Five burned bodies reportedly were found in a bank set ablaze in a north Moroccan town where some of the violence was reported.
Morocco Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui said yesterday 128 people, including 115 members of the security forces, were wounded in violence in several other Moroccan towns following this weekend’s unrest.
The protests were organized under the umbrella of the “February 20 Movement for Change,” which boasts 19,000 Facebook fans. It officially is calling for the 47-year-old king to dismiss the government and dissolve parliament.
The protests were unusual for a country in which King Mohammed is widely considered popular, although Islamic groups seek his removal from office.
Mohammed, who took the throne in 1999, is an ally in the U.S.-led fight against terrorism. He even repeatedly has stated he is willing to normalize relations with Israel once a peace agreement is signed with the Palestinians.
Mohammed is also Western oriented. He has dramatically improved Morocco’s human rights record and has been a champion of women’s rights and a more open economy.
The Soros-funded Human Rights Education Associates has been engaged in teacher training and national training for family judges in Morocco.
It marks the latest connection of the philanthropist activist to protests sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.
Soros’ Open Society Institute’s Middle East and North Africa Initiative has provided numerous grants to a wide range of projects that promote so-called democratic issues across the region, including in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood stands to gain from any future election.
The Open Society also funded the main opposition voice in Tunisia, Radio Kalima, which championed the riots there that led to the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
WND reported last week an international “crisis management” group led by Soros long has petitioned for the Algerian government to cease “excessive” military activities against al-Qaida-linked groups and to allow organizations seeking to create an Islamic state to participate in the Algerian government.
Like Morocco, Algeria last week was the site of violent anti-regime protests.
The organization, the International Crisis Group, also is tied strongly to the Egyptian opposition movement whose protests led to the ouster of Mubarak.
Following protests that led to the resignations of Mubarak and Ben Ali – both key U.S. allies – Algeria similarly has been engulfed in anti-regime riots.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has ruled the country with a tough hand. And he has been an ally of the U.S. in fighting al-Qaida.
Islamist parties serve as Bouteflika’s main opposition.
The International Crisis Group, or ICG, which includes Soros among its eight executive committee members, long has petitioned for the reformation of the Algerian government and for the inclusion of Islamist political parties, two groups that seek to turn Algeria into an Islamic state.
In a July 2004 ICG report obtained by WND, the ICG calls on the Algerian government to curb military action against al-Qaida-affiliated organizations, particularly the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, GSPC, which, like the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, aims to establish an Islamic state within Algeria, and an armed Islamic terrorist group known as Houmat Daawa Salafia, or HDS.
Soros’ ICG names the two Islamic groups in its recommendations to the Algerian government.
“Give top priority to ending the remaining armed movements, mainly the GSPC and HDS, through a political, security, legal and diplomatic strategy,” states the ICG report.
“Avoid excessive reliance on military means and do not allow these movements’ purported links to al-Qaida to rule out a negotiated end to their campaigns,” continued the ICG’s recommendation to the Algerian government.
The ICG has issued at least six other reports recommending Algeria transition to a democracy that will allow the participation of the Islamic groups seeking to create a Muslim caliphate.
After Algeria’s president, Bouteflika, won more than 80 percent of the vote against Islamic opposition groups in 2004, Robert Malley, an ICG associate, recommended, “Rather than exclude all his opponents from the policy making process, he could empower them.”
The ICG’s Malley is a former adviser to Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. He resigned after it was exposed he had communicated with Hamas. WND reported Malley long had petitioned for dialogue with Hamas.
WND also reported the ICG also has petitioned for the Egyptian government to normalize ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and includes on its board Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, as well as other personalities who champion dialogue with Hamas, a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The ICG also released a report urging the Egyptian regime to allow the Brotherhood to establish an Islamist political party.
In a June 2008 report entitled, “Egypt’s Muslim Brothers Confrontation or Integration,” Soros’ ICG urges the Egyptian regime to allow the group to participate in political life.
The report dismisses Egypt’s longstanding government crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood as “dangerously short-sighted.”
The ICG report called on Mubarak’s regime to “pave the way for the regularization of the Muslim Brothers’ participation in political life,” including by allowing for the “establishment of a political party with religious reference.”
The ICG specifically stressed allowing the Brotherhood to serve as an Islamist party several times in its 2008 report.
The ICG and its personalities also long have petitioned for the Muslim Brotherhood to be allowed to join the Egyptian government.
ElBaradei suspended his board membership in the ICG two weeks ago, after he returned to Egypt to lead the anti-Mubarak protests.
U.S. board members include Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was national security adviser to Jimmy Carter; Samuel Berger, who was Bill Clinton’s national security adviser; and retired U.S. ambassador Thomas Pickering, who made headlines in 2009 after meeting with Hamas leaders and calling for the U.S. to open ties to the Islamist group.
Another ICG member is Malley.
The ICG defines itself as an “independent, non-profit, multinational organization, with 100 staff members on five continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.”
With research by Brenda J. Elliott