Western Sahara: diplomatic crisis between Morocco and Tunisia

The Japan-Africa (Ticad) summit, which ended Sunday in Tunis, began with the cancellation of Morocco. Rabat announced on Friday, August 26, the recall of its ambassador to Tunis after Tunisian President Kais Saied welcomed the leader of the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front before the Japan-Africa forum. Tunis responded the next day with the recall of its ambassador to Morocco. Polisario leader Brahim Ghali was welcomed on Friday when he got off the plane by Tunisian President Kais Saied, as well as the presidents and heads of government who came to attend the Japan-Africa Summit (TICAD). The two men then spoke in the presidential lounge at the airport.

“Hostility”

Rabat is not angry against Tunis. “The welcome given by the Tunisian head of state to the leader of the separatist militia is a serious and unprecedented act, which deeply hurts the feelings of the Moroccan people and their living forces”, declare it Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs who speaks “hostile attitude”. While specifying that “This decision in no way affects the strong and intact ties between the Moroccan and Tunisian peoples, who are linked by a common history and a shared destiny”. For its part Tunisannouncing the recall of its ambassador, claims to have “maintained its total neutrality on the question of Western Sahara with respect for international legitimacy”advocating a “peaceful solution acceptable to all”. Without convince Rabat.

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The Reasons Of The Wrath

It is not the first time that Morocco reproaches another country for the reception of the leader of the Polisario. His hospitalization in Spain in May 2021 was the cause of a long diplomatic crisis between the two countries. Brahim Ghali is the president of the Sahrawi and Democratic Arab Republic (SADR), self-proclaimed by the Polisario Front, which claims the independence of the disputed territory of Western Sahara, almost 80% controlled by Morocco. The question of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony considered a “non-autonomous territory” by the UN, has opposed Morocco to the Polisario for decades, supported by neighboring Algeria. Rabat proposes an autonomy plan under its sovereignty. The Polisario is calling for a self-determination referendum under the aegis of the UN, planned when a ceasefire was signed in 1991 but never materialized.

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