ID : N-1704 Date : 2018/05/03 - 13:25
(Persia Digest) – The Moroccan government announced on Tuesday that it was cutting its diplomatic ties with Iran, accusing it of support for the Polisario Front – a movement opposing Moroccan control of the Western Sahara. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar have welcomed the move.
Spokesperson for the Polisario Front has called the allegations complete falsehood and asked Rabat to provide evidence for its claims. The spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry has also categorically denied all links between the Iranian Embassy in Algiers and the Polisario Front. Algiers has also announced in a statement: “We reject all allegations made by Maghreb for cutting off ties with Iran that also includes Algeria.”
Persia Digest spoke to former Iranian Ambassador to Libya and African affairs analyst, Jafar Ghanadbashi, about this decision taken by Morocco.
Ghanadbashi told Persia Digest reporter: “The sudden decision by Morocco to severe political ties with Iran raises doubts. Allegations of interference is always rife among all countries, as it is between France and Germany, China and Russia, or the US and Mexico. The subject arises every now and then, but it never leads to cutting off diplomatic relations. The usual process involves an initial protest, and then relations grow cold or are reduced. The sudden drastic decision by Morocco leaves many questions unanswered and shows there are other reasons behind this.”
He added that there could be three reasons for this move: “The first reason is domestic. The Moroccan government is very vulnerable at home and a series of protests against the kingdom in the academic arena and among the public have been taking shape. It can be concluded that all protests against the monarchy will from now on be attributed to Iran and dealt with as such.”
Ghanadbashi added: “The second reason is regional. Morocco had deployed forces to fight in Yemen. It recalled them about ten days ago. It is possible that such a decision has been taken as a proof of friendship in order to reduce hard feelings with the Saudis. We know that many Arab countries on the African continent have economic difficulties and Saudi financial support is vital for them.”
He continued: “The third reason can be linked to Trump’s pending decision on the JCPOA. Many Zionists travel to Morocco and a part of the population here is Jewish. It is possible that Israeli influence on the Moroccan government has led to such a showdown in order to provide the necessary excuses for Trump. Of course, the severance of ties by Morocco cannot be an effective reason for Trump’s decision, but merely a justification.”
Speaking of Moroccan allegations about Iran’s help to the Polisario Front, Ghanadbashi said: “After the victory of the 1979 Revolution, Iran had an agenda of helping Islamic movements, including the Polisario Front. From 1980 to 1990, 77 countries of which 54 were African, had officially recognized the Western Sahara sovereignty. It was for this reason that Morocco left the OAU African Union as a protest. It rejoined the Union only two years ago.”
He went on to say: “Nevertheless, ever since the presidency of the late Mr Hashemi Rafsanjani, the debate on helping Islamic movements, including the Polisario Front, was slowly abandoned. Iran has provided no help to Western Sahara in nearly three decades; because, the African Union has also stopped such help. In other words, Iran only supported the movement for as long as it was supported by the African Union. Although Western Sahara policies are different from those of Iran and it is not considered a Shia movement.”
Former Iranian Ambassador to Libya said: “Moroccan academics still have close ties with Iranian academics. The viewpoints of Abdol-Karim Soroush and Mohammed Abed Al Jabri are very close, or the works of Taha Abdurrahman have been translated in Iran and are being taught in universities here. Such close thinking is worrying the Moroccan government, because popular and academic movement against the monarchy have begun, and the rule of democracy in Iran is also praised here.”