Politics, Middle East, Africa

Morocco recalls ambassador from Saudi Arabia

Move comes in immediate wake of reports that Rabat has withdrawn from Saudi-led military coalition

08.02.2019
Morocco recalls ambassador from Saudi Arabia

By Khalid Majdoub

RABAT

Morocco has recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia after a Saudi television channel reportedly broadcast a report “challenging Morocco’s territorial integrity”.

Ambassador Mustafa al-Mansouri told Morocco’s pro-government 360 website on Friday: “I was recalled from Riyadh to take part in consultations regarding our two countries’ bilateral relations.”

Describing the matter as a “passing cloud”, al-Mansouri attributed the move to a recent report on Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya television channel, which, he said, had “challenged the Kingdom of Morocco’s territorial integrity” -- a reference to Morocco’s Western Sahara region.

A large territory in southern Morocco, the Western Sahara remains the subject of dispute between Rabat and the Polisario Front, an Algeria-backed movement which for decades has called for regional independence. 

According to al-Mansouri, he was summoned back to Rabat on Tuesday to “discuss developments”. 

“Diplomatic relations always have their ups and downs,” he said. “Things will soon return to normal. Especially given the strength of the historic ties between our two countries.”

The Moroccan Foreign Ministry, for its part, has yet to officially comment on al-Mansouri’s abrupt recall.

In a closely related development, however, Moroccan media reported Thursday evening that Rabat had decided to withdraw from a Saudi-led military coalition drawn up in 2015 to fight the Houthi rebel group in Yemen.

On Jan. 23, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bureita was quoted as saying that his country had "changed" its policy regarding its participation in the Saudi-led coalition.

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