Tensions between Morocco, Saudi Arabia escalates over Yemen, Western Sahara

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 09.02.2019 00:02

Moroccan government officials say Morocco has stopped taking part in military action with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen's war, and has recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Tensions have mounted lately between Morocco and Saudi Arabia over the disputed Western-Sahara. 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. In a closely related development, Moroccan media reported Thursday evening that Rabat no longer takes part in military interventions or ministerial meetings in the Saudi-led coalition. Morocco has not divulged details of its military's participation in coalition in Yemen fighting Iran-aligned Houthi rebels since 2015. 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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