Hosted by the Moroccan member parties of the Network of Arab Liberals (NAL), the Union Constitutionelle and the Mouvement Populaire, leading representatives of liberal parties from Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania and Morocco met in Marrakech on November 23 and 24, 2008 for the first ever conference of the liberal parties of the Maghreb.

Titled "Towards Building a Maghreb Liberal Vision", the two day event brought together leaders from NAL member parties in Morocco and Tunisia, delegates of the Algerian Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) and, for the first time, representatives of liberal parties in Mauritania.

The participants of the conference in Marrakech

"The aim of this meeting is to open a space for the exchange of opinion and dialogue between the liberal parties of the Maghreb and, also, to develop a unified vision towards our common concerns," said NAL President Mohamed Tamadou. The participants engaged in discussions regarding liberal positions on issues of religion, culture, politics and the economy.

Liberal International, the world federation of liberal parties, was represented in Marrakech by Mr. Jochem De Groot. Speaking on behalf of LI President Lord Alderdice, he expressed his full support for NAL: "We are encouraged that the liberals of the Maghreb are growing and are also strengthening their links", he said.

In the end, the participants resolved that meetings of the Maghreb liberal parties should be repeated on a regular basis.

Liberal Arab Youth Leaders Hold Political Meetings in Germany
Dr wolfgang gerhardt Seven senior members of youth organizations associated to member parties of the Network of Arab Liberals (NAL) visited Germany from November 22 to 29, 2008 for a series of political and educational meetings organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF). Lord Alderdice
Delegation with FNF's Chairman Dr. Wolfgang Gerhardt Meeting with German parliamentarians at the Bundestag in Berlin

During the one-week-program the young activists from liberal parties in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon attended a seminar in Gummersbach and held informative meetings in Aachen, Düsseldorf and Berlin.

The program aimed at introducing to the Arab youth activists the role of political party youth wings in the political system of Germany with a special focus on the relationship of the youth organizations with the respective mother parties. All major German political parties have well established youth organizations that play an active role in party affairs. The delegation from the Middle East met with members of the German and European Parliaments, the leadership of FNF, and also had extensive discussions with Junge Liberale (Julis), the youth wing of the German liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Promoting the cooperation between Arab and European liberals is an important objective of the Network of Arab Liberals. In this regard, the discussions the Arab youth delegation held with leading members of the International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY) and the European Federation of Liberal Youth Organizations (LYMEC) were important as they laid the ground for future cooperation.

Summarizing the outcome of seven busy day in Germany, Egyptian delegate Mohamed Saad from the Ghad Party said: "The program was an excellent opportunity for us to communicate with European and German politicians, to exchange experiences and also to discuss future cooperation".

Young leaders from liberal Arab political parties laid the ground for the establishment of a pan-Arab liberal youth organization at a regional workshop in Beirut/Lebanon from October 28.-31, 2008. Titled "Cooperation for Freedom: Creating a Liberal Arab Youth Network" the workshop brought together young liberal politicians and activists from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. The three-day event was sponsored by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF) in cooperation with the Network of Arab Liberals (NAL).

The participants of the workshop in Beirut

In a written statement presented at the workshop, NAL-President Mohamed Tamaldou expressed his support for the objectives of the activity. He also expressed his satisfaction that this event was held in Beirut, "the symbol of the challenge for freedom". In his welcoming remarks, NAL-Executive Board member Dr. Chamile Chamoun greeted the young delegates and also emphasized the importance of the project to set up a liberal Arab youth network.

In a first step, the participants then discussed the ideological and political dimensions of cooperation among Arab liberal youth. In special sessions, they talked about the present economic crisis, the widespread political disenchantment with politics among the Arab youth and the repressive nature of most governments in the region. The delegates acknowledged that they have not yet reached a common understanding of what exactly the liberal response should be to the many challenges confronting the Arab youth today. They agreed to deal with this programmatic issue as a matter of priority once the network is formally established.

The delegates also dealt with organizational matters related to the setting up of an international network. They agreed that the youth network which they tentatively titled Union of Liberal Arab Youth (ULAY) should be closely associated with the Network of Arab Liberals (NAL). Furthermore, the delegates agreed that the organization would be formally established at a General Assembly to be held in the region in early 2009. The organizational preparations for this event and the drafting of the statutes were delegated to a provisional Steering Committee with members representing political youth wings in Morocco, Egypt and Lebanon.

NAL-Executive Board member Dr. Chamile Chamoun with Tunisian delegates

In a special session, Frederik Ferie, vice president of the International Federation for Liberal Youth (IFLRY) gave an overview of liberal international and regional organizations. According to Mr. Ferie, IFLRY represents two million young liberals in all parts of the world. The Federation is interested in strengthening cooperation with liberal youth wings in the Arab world.

Senior members of liberal Arab parties and women activists came together in Tunis on October 18-19, 2008 for a workshop entitled The Role of Women in Political Parties in the Arab World. The event was the first activity of the Network of Arab Liberals in Tunisia and was cosponsored by the Parti Social Liberal (PSL) of Tunisia in cooperation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF). Among the participants were political leaders from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Palestine. Numerous members of the women wing of the host party PSL attended the event.

At their meeting, the delegates discussed the socio-cultural, legal and constitutional frameworks of gender issues in the Arab world, the status quo of women’s participation in political parties and strategies to enhance equal opportunities in liberal parties of the region. 

Prof. Salem Elabyad, Egyptian writer Sekina Foaad and Ms. Rawda Alsiby Director of the PSL woman's association

Chaired by NAL-President Mohamed Tamaldou, the Executive Board of the Network met for its first ordinary meeting in Tunis on October 17, 2008. During their one-day reunion, the NAL-leaders dealt with a long list of organizational and political issues – among them the consolidation of the group, internal and external communications, the division of responsibilities and tasks among the board members, finances, membership and upcoming activities. Special attention was given to the procedures to invite and accept new members: According to NAL-program officer, Mrs. Cynthia Farahat, membership applications from liberal parties in Sudan and Iraq have reached the secretariat in Cairo.

Regarding planned activities, Mr. Tamaldou informed the Board about the upcoming conference titled Towards Establishing a Liberal Maghreb Vision to be held in Marrakech in late November 2008. This is envisioned to be the first meeting of liberal party leaders of the Arab Maghreb including Mauretania. The Executive Board also discussed plans to hold a workshop dealing with economic policies and liberal developmental strategies in Amman, Jordan in early 2009.

NAL-President Mohamed Tamaldou