Published: Tue, February 12, 2019

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

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

The Coalition, under the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, confirms its support and dedication to relief efforts to the brotherly Yemeni people, and reiterates its support for the Stockholm Agreement and the United Nations sponsored peace process, led by Martin Griffiths, in accordance with UNSC resolutions, the GCC Initiative, and outcomes of the Yemeni national dialogue.

Ambassador Mustapha Mansouri confirmed on Friday the recall to Morocco's Le360, the pro-establishment news website said.

Another Moroccan government official said the ambassador was recalled after a Saudi television report about the disputed Western Sahara.

The documentary caused a backslash in Morocco, prompting many Moroccans on social media to express their rejection of the Saudi "ultimate provocation" and to urge the Moroccan government to reconsider its relations with Saudi Arabia.

Broadcast by Al Arabiya, the documentary on Western Sahara questions the territorial integrity of Morocco for an area of the desert contested for over 40 years.

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

Up to now, neither the Moroccan nor the Saudi foreign ministries have commented on the diplomatic tensions.

The officials did not elaborate, simply saying Morocco was not taking part in any military interventions or ministerial meetings with the coalition.

Morocco had already scaled back its involvement in coalition activities in May 2015, after one of its F-16 fighter jets was reportedly shot down by the Houthis. "Especially given the strength of the historic ties between our two countries".

The four-year war and the country's economic collapse have unleashed the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis, with 14 million of Yemen's 29 million population facing starvation.

When Bourita was asked why King Mohammed VI did not host Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on a recent tour of other Arab countries, Bourita said: "Official visits are prepared in advance, according to protocol".

The tour came amid worldwide concern about the Yemen war and condemnation of the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul.

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