Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) will not visit Morocco in his ongoing world tour because King Mohammed VI declined him an audience.
Rabat – A government source close to the dossier told Morocco World News that it was not MBS who snubbed Morocco, but the other way around.
News circulated last week of MBS snubbing Morocco as a destination in his ongoing world tour. MBS, the argument went, was punishing Rabat for diverting from Saudi strategic guidelines, especially in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and in the Saudis’ feud with Qatar.
Earlier this week, however, the Espace MRE outlet said Morocco snubbed the Saudi prince instead.
According to the MWN source, Morocco decided that it was not ready to host MBS at such a critical juncture.
Although the original article is no longer accessible—probably taken down for some obscure reasons—Morocco World News contacted a source who has been briefed on the information.
Requesting anonymity, the source emphatically confirmed that Morocco did in fact raise concerns about hosting MBS. However, in his usual diplomatic tone, the King did not decline MBS’s request outright, the source said.
Instead, King Mohammed VI reportedly brought up his “busy schedule” at the time MBS requested for the visit and an audience with Mohammed VI, suggesting that a meeting between the two was not going to happen. The visit to Morocco was therefore “not appropriate.”
But still, the Moroccan monarch reportedly proposed that MBS meet Moulay Rachid, the King’s diplomat brother, provided that the Saudi prince wanted to proceed with the visit despite the concerns Morocco had raised.
MBS rejected King Mohammed VI’s alternative.
Weeks after the reported exchange, Saudi Arabia made public the news of MBS’s “world tour,” including Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, and Algeria.
Morocco was the great absentee on the princely list, leading to speculations that Saudi Arabia was taking punitive steps towards Morocco’s numerous positions that do not align with Riyadh’s strategic interests.
MBS, persona non grata?
Morocco has remained a strong Saudi ally over the years.
Despite recent incidents that led the two kingdoms to give each other the cold shoulder on a number of shared interests, reports that MBS snubbed Morocco carried weight in Arab politics. Rabat has a reputation as a strong Saudi ally in North Africa, and yet it was the only country in the Maghreb that did not feature on MBS’ list of visits.
In Rabat’s eyes, however, MWN’s source confirmed, international reputation matters.
The source did not elaborate further. But the unfolding of events in countries planning to receive MBS helped make the point: The Khashoggi murder carries significance in how many perceive MBS.
As the world has concentrated on Khashoggi’s murder, MBS’s reputation is fatally tarnished. The once all-powerful and charismatic young Saudi prince has become persona non grata for many in the international community.
When Algeria and Tunisia confirmed that MBS was expected there, a wave of protests erupted to challenge the governments for hosting the Saudi prince.
Taking to the streets, Tunisian activists said MBS was “not welcome” in their country.
“It is a shame that Tunisia, which has witnessed a democratic transition and a revolution against tyranny and dictatorship, will receive a criminal whose hands were stained with the blood of Saudis and Yemenis,” one of the activists said.