Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita has cited “deep disagreements” with Germany over Berlin’s stance on Western Sahara, according to local media.
Morocco is suspending “all contact” with the German embassy in Rabat over Berlin’s stance on the Western Sahara region, local media reported late Monday.
In December, Germany criticized then-US President Donald Trump for recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita reportedly asked the government to suspend communications with all German entities in Rabat, citing “deep disagreements” with Berlin.
According to media reports, a senior diplomat said Rabat was also reacting to not receiving an invitation to an international meeting about Libya last year.
What is the Berlin conference on Libya?
Berlin had hosted a conference in January 2020 to address the situation in Libya.
Germany invited heads of state from counties involved in the conflict in Libya and representatives of the European Union, the African Union and the Arab League.
Morocco then said it was surprised at not receiving an invitation to the conference. Rabat added that it had played an essential role in the international efforts to end the conflict in Libya.
What is the dispute over Western Sahara?
Morocco has occupied the Western Sahara area on the Atlantic coast of northwest Africa since 1975. It was previously a Spanish colony.
The Polisario Front, an Algerian-backed independence movement, has long called for a vote on Western Sahara’s self-determination.
The pro-independence front represents the local Sahrawi population, which has fought Morocco over the territory for years.
A 1991 ceasefire gave the Polisario Front control over a strip in the east and south of Western Sahara that borders Algeria to the northeast and extends to the southwest’s Atlantic coast.
The Polisario has declared the area the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
How has Western Sahara affected Moroccan diplomacy?
After Trump recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, Germany called a UN Security Council meeting.
Since 2019, Morocco has allowed states to open their diplomatic services in Western Sahara under their mission to Rabat.
In 2018, Morocco cut diplomatic ties with Iran, citing its support for the Polisario Front.
Rabat also expelled at least 70 UN staffers in 2016 after then-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara as an “occupation”.
(AFP, dpa, Reuters)