DAccording to several local press reports, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita has asked all ministries to cease contact with the German embassy in Rabat. The reason for this are “deep misunderstandings about the fundamental questions of the Kingdom of Morocco”, as the online service “Le Desk” and other Moroccan media reported. Several online publications also published a copy allegedly showing the original of the Foreign Minister’s letter. It was stated that the letter was not intended for publication. However, the official news agency MAP did not initially report on it.
There was no further information on the night of this Tuesday. Not even from the Foreign Office in Berlin.
Sensitive topic Western Sahara
The press has speculated that the Western Sahara conflict might play a role: the United States recognized Moroccan claim to the annexed territory last December after Rabat promised to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. Germany and the most important European partners are not ready for this. Western Sahara, with its half a million inhabitants, was a Spanish colony until 1975 when it was largely occupied and annexed by Morocco. The region has coveted natural resources, including fish-rich waters and phosphate deposits.
According to his letter, the foreign minister’s ban on contact also applies to political foundations. Most recently, during the negotiations on an extensive partnership program, there had been a dispute over the status of political foundations in Morocco, which the government had accused of interfering in internal affairs. The Friedrich-Ebert-, Konrad-Adenauer-, Friedrich-Naumann-, Hanns-Seidel- and Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung are represented in Rabat.
In addition, Morocco had unsuccessfully sought the extradition of the German-Moroccan Mohamed Hajib, who is living in Germany again after having been imprisoned in Morocco for seven years and claims to have been tortured there. He was convicted on charges of participating in the formation of a terrorist organization in Afghanistan. He is now living in Germany again and is demanding compensation from the Federal Republic because officials forced him to travel to Morocco in 2010.