9/19/2019
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Morocco freezes involvement in Saudi-led coalition in Yemen


Friday February 8, 2019
Amira El Masaiti | AP


 In this Jan. 3, 2017 file photo, tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels chant slogans during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts to fight pro-government forces, in Sanaa, Yemen. Moroccan government officials said Thursday Feb. 7, 2019 that Morocco has stopped taking part in military action with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s war, and has recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia. (Hani Mohammed, File/Associated Press)

RABAT, Morocco — Government officials say Morocco has stopped taking part in military action with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s war, and has recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Tensions have been mounting between Morocco and Saudi Arabia, amid international concerns about Saudi actions in the Yemen war and other issues.

A Moroccan government official said Thursday that Morocco no longer takes part in military interventions or ministerial meetings in the Saudi-led coalition.

The official didn’t elaborate. Morocco’s government has not divulged details of its military’s participation in the coalition, which has been at war in Yemen against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels since 2015. The war has killed thousands and displaced over 3 million people.

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Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said in an interview last month with Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera that Morocco’s participation in Yemen had “changed.”

Bourita also hinted that Rabat had serious reservations about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent tour of other Arab countries, amid international condemnation of the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul. According to one of the sources, Morocco declined to host the Saudi crown prince in an unusual snub, citing the Moroccan king’s “busy agenda.”

After Bourita’s interview, Saudi television channel Al-Arabiya aired a documentary on the disputed Western Sahara, supporting claims that Morocco invaded it after Spanish colonizers left in 1975. Morocco considers the Western Sahara its southern territories.

Morocco recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia for consultations after the report aired, according to another Moroccan government official.

Both government officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the diplomatic tensions.

Morocco’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Mustapha Mansouri, remains in the Moroccan capital Rabat, but did not respond Thursday to requests for comment.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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