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Morocco pulls out of Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, recalls ambassador

Move comes after a year of slow diplomatic breakdown concurrent with rise to power of Saudi crown prince

Feb 12

12:18
2019

Morocco's ambassador to Saudi Arabia has been told to remain in home capital Rabat for 'consultations.' Mustapha Mansouri was told by his superiors that he should not go back to Riyadh following a week-long visit back home, a move that is seen by observers as a way to express the North African kingdom's dissatisfaction with the Saudi regime.

Moroccan officials also confirmed the country was pulling its troops out of a Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen's government in a civil war that has become a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, throwing the country into the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The decision seemed to have been sparked by the broadcast last week of a documentary doubting Morocco's claims over the disputed Western Sahara region on the Saudi government-owned Al Arabiya.

The documentary came just a month after Morocco's foreign minister Nasser Bourita expressed concerns over the humanitarian situation in Yemen in an interview with Qatari channel Al Jazeera.

2018 has seen rising tensions between the two historical allies, with a series of tit-for-tat moves showing the two kingdoms' discontent over each other's diplomatic standing, concurrently with the rise to power of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Morocco refused to take sides in the ongoing blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its gulf states allies in 2017, which in return did not vote for Morocco's unsuccessful bid to host the 2026 soccer World Cup.Rabat also stayed notably silent in the Jamal Khashoggi killing, while the Saudi royal family cancelled their annual holiday plans to Morocco last year.

Mansouri himself attempted to diminish the significance of the event, saying that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Morocco were "solid."

"It is absolutely normal for differences of opinion to exist between countries, and for them to explode from time to time. I am certain this is only a temporary crisis, and that relations between our two countries will soon go back to normal," he told reporters.

Morocco occupies an important place in geopolitics, with its generally stable regime and geographical location making it a natural bridge between Europe and the Middle-East.