Morocco recalls envoy to Saudi Arabia for consultations

Moroccan media announced on Friday, that the country has recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia for consultations, stipulating disagreements with the Saudi government over Yemen, Qatar and Western Sahara.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia

By Sohaila Barghash

Ambassador Mustapha Mansouri confirmed the recall, saying that the strong and longstanding ties between the two Sunni countries are now deteriorating.

The recall was not however, confirmed officially by Morocco’s foreign ministry. Additionally, neither Mansouri nor the Saudi embassy in Rabat made any comment.

On Thursday, a government official announced the ambassador had been in Morocco for about a week, without specifying the reason behind his stay.

Generally, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have supported Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, which is also claimed by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.

The ambassador has said, his recall came after the Saudi TV channel, Al Arabiye aired a documentary that was critical of the Moroccan position on the Western Sahara issue.

The documentary comes almost a month after Qatari TV channel Al Jazeera aired an interview with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, expressing his thoughts over the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

The minister said, Morocco, who was a former member of the Arab coalition in the Yemeni war, no longer participates in military operations and have declined invitations to recent military maneuvers and ministerial meetings by alliance countries.

He added: Morocco “changed the form and content of its participation in the Arab coalition after an assessment of developments on the ground”.

Political analysts claim that since Crown Prince MBS has rose to power, the tension between Morocco and Saudi Arabia increased.

For instance, Saudi Arabia along with its greatest Gulf supporter, the United Arab Emirates did not vote for Morocco’s 2026 World Cup bid after Morocco took a neutral stand in a dispute between Qatar and a number of Gulf and other states who have froze relations with Doha.

Last year, the Saudi crown prince was not received in Morocco while on a North African tour. Even though, Morocco’s foreign minister, said the visit did not take place as the tour came during a time of conflict.

Finally, amid the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Morocco did not voice support for The Gulf Kingdom. The incident damaged Riyadh’s reputation both regionally as well as internationally.

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