Arab Coalition denies supplying Yemen militants with United States weapons
12 February, 2019, 06:27 | Author: Wade Massey
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said in an interview last month with Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera that "on the basis of developments" in Yemen, "there was a change in the form and the content" of Morocco's participation.
Tensions have been mounting between Morocco and Saudi Arabia, amid global concerns about Saudi actions in the Yemen war and other issues.
Rabat had already scaled down its participation in coalition activities in May of 2015 after a Moroccan F-16 was reportedly shot down by the Houthis.
Rabat also stayed notably silent in the Jamal Khashoggi killing, while the Saudi royal family cancelled their annual holiday plans to Morocco past year.
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.
One official told the AP that Morocco declined to host MBS citing the Moroccan king's "busy agenda".
The recall is due to the airing by Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya of a documentary that diverged from the Moroccan position on the Western Sahara issue, the ambassador told Le360.
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China's claim was largely discredited by an worldwide arbitration tribunal three years ago, but Beijing has rejected the ruling. The Chinese military has since bolstered its presence in the region, deploying military hardware and other defense systems.
Morocco's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Mustapha Mansouri, remains in the Moroccan capital Rabat, but did not respond Thursday to requests for comment.
In a closely related development, however, Moroccan media reported Thursday evening that Rabat had chose to withdraw from a Saudi-led military coalition drawn up in 2015 to fight the Houthi rebel group in Yemen.
With logistical support from the United States, the coalition has carried out more than 18,000 raids on Yemen.
Morocco claims Western Sahara as part of its territory while the Sahrawi people there demands self-determination, which is supported by Morocco's eastern neighbor Algeria.
The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement in March 2018 that the war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured until then.
The four-year war and the country's economic collapse have unleashed the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis, with 14 million of Yemen's 29 million population facing starvation.
According to recent estimates, as many as 85,000 children may have died from hunger since the coalition's intervention.
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