Morocco FM denies media reports of withdrawal of envoys from Saudi Arabia, UAE

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Contrary to media reports that Morocco had recalled its envoys from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita has on Saturday said that “the news is not correct, unfounded and was not issued by an official.”

“The history of Moroccan diplomacy confirms that it expresses its position through its own channels and not through an American news agency,” he said on Saturday to Russian news agency, Sputnik.

Rabat “has its own special channels to announce such decisions,” he was quoted by the Russian agency, with reference to the reports that claimed Morocco withdrew is ambassadors in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Recent reports in the media have been rife about diplomatic relations between Morocco and Saudi Arabia being on a downward slide.

An Associated Press report quoted Moroccan officials as saying that Rabat has stopped taking part in military operations with the Arab coalition in Yemen, and has also recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Envoy Mustapha El Mansouri was recalled, according to Morocco World News, to discuss the diplomatic ties between the two kingdoms “in light of the broadcast of a hostile documentary by television channel Al Arabiya on the disputed Western Sahara.”

AP said that a Moroccan government official has confirmed to it that the envoy to Saudi Arabia was indeed recalled after the airing of the said documentary.

Meanwhile, the prominent news outlet Hespress, which is close to the Moroccan government, said on Friday that the Moroccan Foreign Ministry had deliberately chosen to “direct Rabat’s position against Saudi Arabia through a foreign media agency and later to direct the ambassador to make a press statement.”

Many other Moroccan news outlets are also reporting about the “mounting tensions” between Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

Morocco World News said that in the weeks before the June 13, 2018 results for the bid to host the 2026 World Cup, Saudi Arabia “actively lobbied in favor of the US-led North American bid.”

The tripartite bid between US, Mexico and Canada won a decisive 134 votes to only 65 votes for Morocco.

It was clear that even all the Arab votes could not make up the unprecedented difference in votes between the two bids.

The UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia did not vote for Morocco.

Twenty-four hours after the vote, King Mohammed VI chose Qatar alone from among the countries that voted for his country to thank for its support.

A few weeks later, in the first official reaction on this issue, Morocco announced that it will not participate in a meeting of the countries of the Arab coalition on Yemen.

A statement by the Ministry of Culture and Communication in Morocco, at the time, said that “Mohamed Al-A’araj, minister of culture and communication, will not participate in the meeting,” noting that the absence of the Moroccan minister was due “to agenda-related commitments.”

Last month, Moroccan Foreign Minister Bourita said in an interview with Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera that “on the basis of developments” in Yemen, “there was a change in the form and the content” of Morocco’s participation.

In the same interview, Bourita used the Qatari channel to hint at the fact that “Rabat had serious reservations about Mohammed bin Salman’s recent tour to Arab countries, including Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain and UAE.”

It was recently noted that Moroccan-Qatari co-ordination has crossed the border beyond the region. Morocco was mentioned in a case involving allegations of a hacking operation that was carried out by Qatar within the United States.

Jamal Benomar, a former United Nations official, was accused by prominent Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy of taking part in a Qatari-backed hacking operation that targeted him within the United States.

Benomar won the case to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that he had diplomatic immunity after he claimed in a court filing that he “is a member of the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations” and therefore enjoys diplomatic immunity.

The filing acknowledges Benomar’s contacts with Qatari officials and US-based Qatari agents and claims he “counseled Qatar at the request of his home government of Morocco.”