Germany’s stance on Sahara issue prompts Morocco to recall envoy

The Moroccan Foreign Ministry put out a statement saying “Germany has distanced itself from the spirit of constructive solution with a destructive attitude on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara.”
Friday 07/05/2021
German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita upon his arrival for the G20 Compact with Africa (CwA) conference on November 19, 2019 in Berlin. (AFP)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita upon his arrival for the G20 Compact with Africa (CwA) conference on November 19, 2019 in Berlin. (AFP)

RABAT – Morocco’s ambassador to Germany has been recalled to Rabat for “consultations”, the Moroccan foreign ministry said Thursday.

The North African kingdom’s move comes amid rising tensions with Germany, notably related to the disputed Western Sahara. The ministry also cited concerns about the two countries’ cooperation against terrorism and in settling Libya’s conflict.

In March, Morocco suspended ties with the German embassy due to “deep misunderstandings” following then-US President Donald Trump’s decision in December to recognise Morocco’s sovereignty over the territory.

Mohamed Kerini, professor of international law and relations, told The Arab Weekly that “after sending the first message to Germany, it was time to make a second move in which the Moroccan ambassador was summoned after monitoring a number of German positions that threatened Moroccan regional and international interests.”

He indicated that “Berlin’s position on the Sahara issue remains ambiguous in a way that is not compatible with the assessments and decisions of the Security Council.”

Kerini explained that “during the meetings held at the level of the Security Council, the hostile German positions on the issue of the Sahara were clear.”

The German Foreign Ministry said it was not informed in advance about the ambassador’s recall, adding that it was trying to resolve the issue.

“We are all the more surprised by this measure as we are working with the Moroccan side in a constructive way to resolve the crisis,” the ministry said, adding that it has asked Morocco for an explanation.

On Thursday, the Moroccan Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “Germany has distanced itself from the spirit of constructive solution with a destructive attitude on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara.” It accused Germany of “antagonistic activism” following Trump’s decision.

The ministry also accused German authorities of acting “with complicity towards an individual formerly convicted of acts of terror, by disclosing sensitive information communicated by the Moroccan security services to their German counterparts.”

It did not name the individual, nor elaborate on the accusations.

The ministry said Germany exhibited a “continued determination to counter Morocco’s regional influence, particularly on the Libyan issue,” after Morocco was not included in important Libya peace talks in Berlin in January.

After Morocco froze relations with the German embassy in March, Germany’s government said it saw no reason for a deterioration of its good diplomatic relations with Morocco.

The Algeria-backed Polisario Front fought for the control of the Western Sahara after Morocco annexed the former Spanish colony in 1975. UN peacekeepers now monitor a 30-year-old cease-fire between Moroccan forces and the Polisario.