Upstairs in the old city-hall building in this ancient tourist mecca, there is an unexpected sight: in the sprawling mayoral suite, the head of Morocco’s third biggest urban area, a city with more than a million people, is dressed in a slim-fitted jacket and trousers, her hair hanging loose and makeup expertly applied. The mayor of Marrakech admits she hardly fits the stereotype of the Arab politician on the rise. But in this North African country, that is the point. Having averted an Arab Spring–style revolt, Morocco, a country of 30 million people and a key U.S. ally against Islamic militancy, is attempting to remake itself, bit by bit, while leaving intact its top-down politics: a compliant Parliament accountable to a powerful monarch, King Mohammed VI. “People were surprised to see a young woman like me elected,” says the mayor, Fatima Zahra Mansouri, 37. “I realized people were hungry…

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