Author:George Kurian

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Official country name: Kingdom of Morocco

Capital: Rabat

Geographic description: Northwestern tip of northern Africa, west of Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar, bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean to the west, Algeria to the east and southeast, and Western Sahara to the south

Population: 32,725,847 (est. 2005)


Under French rule, which began in 1907, internal security was maintained by French troops augmented by Moroccan recruits who were organized into four elements: tirailleurs, goums, makhzanis, and partisans. The tirailleurs were regular soldiers. Goums performed a number of duties, including training and buildings schools and hospitals. Makhzanis were assigned to rural areas. Partisans were local forces in remote areas recruited for special missions. In 1956, after achieving full independence, Morocco adopted the French system with two branches: the Sûreté Nationale and the parliamentary Gendarmerie. Eventually, several different forces were established, most parliamentary in nature, with overlapping responsibilities

Structure and Organization

Primary responsibility for the maintenance of law and order and for conducting internal security operations is exercised jointly by the country's three separate police organizations: the Sûreté Nationale, the Royal Gendarmerie, and the Auxiliary Forces. All three are modeled on their French counterparts and are regarded as paramilitary organizations.

The main law enforcement agency, the Sûreté Nationale, is the national police directly responsible to the king. The Royal Gendarmerie technically is part of the Royal Moroccan Army (Forces Armées Royales, FAR) and is directly responsible to the king. The Auxiliary Forces, as a quasi-national guard, is also within the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry. The commanders of these forces are directly appointed by the king who approves all major policy decisions. The overlapping of operational functions among the three is maintained deliberately to preclude any possible threat to the throne from any one element.

Sûreté Nationale

The Sûreté, with headquarters in Rabat, is under the command and control of a director general. It exercises primary police authority in the principal urban centers and in certain towns. It shares the patrolling of highways with the Gendarmerie and responsibility for frontier security with the FAR, and Auxiliary Forces. As the national agency for countersubversion, it conducts overt

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Moroccan authorities escort an African immigrant from Mali to a plane in Oujda, Morocco, October 12, 2005. Mali immigrants who have attempted to reach Europe by crossing through Morocco are often apprehended by authorities and sent back to their home country. AP Images. and clandestine operations nationwide. To fulfill this responsibility, it maintains careful surveillance of foreigners and assists customs and immigration officials in certain aspects of their work

The Sûreté was established by a royal dahir (decree) in 1956. Its structure, procedure, and operational concepts are more French than Moroccan. Except for two reorganizations, the Sûreté has existed without any major modification of its structure and responsibilities. During the period after the disastrous Casablanca riots in 1965, the Sûreté was removed from the Ministry of the Interior and made autonomous, answerable only to the king.

For administrative purposes, the Sûreté has six subdirectorates: Administration, Public Safety, National Security, Documentation and Regulatory Control, Judicial Police, and Inspectorate and Training. It employs four basic police units: the Urban Corps, the Mobile Intervention Companies, the Judiciary Police, and the International Security Police. The country is divided into ten regions (confusingly, each is called a sûreté), each under the command of a commissioner.

The uniformed Urban Corps, the largest of the Sûreté branches, provides most of the police services in the cities and major towns in foot, bicycle, motorcycle, or automobile patrols. They work in pairs in foot beats and on automobile patrols. They man traffic-control stations and provide crowd control. In some cases, the Mobile Intervention Companies augment the Urban Corps, and the Urban Corps augments the Judicial Police.

The Mobile...

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