Morocco withdraws from the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen war, showing that Rabat and Riyadh do no longer see eye to eye on a number of regional crises.
The head of the Houthi movement, Abdel-Aziz bin Habtour has sent a message to Morocco’s Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani, thanking the country for suspending participation in the Saudi-led coalition in the ongoing war in Yemen.
In an unprecedented move, the head of the Houthi movement lauded Morocco’s withdrawal from the Saudi coalition in the conflict, reported the Yemeni news agency.
Morocco’s withdrawal decision, said Habtour, “reflects the good, brotherly Moroccan-Yemeni relations.” He added, “Yemeni people will continue to cherish their strong, brotherly ties with the Moroccan people in days to come.”
Habtour also said he hoped for Morocco to join the international efforts to stop the war in Yemen, in line with its “sound decision.”
The Houthi leader ended his message by wishing “development and prosperity for Morocco and its people.”
Tensions simmer between Rabat and Riyadh
Tensions have been rife between Morocco and Saudi Arabia, although there have been no official moves from either party to express frustration.
In the public discourse, meanwhile, the spat between the two allies seemed to reach a new level after a Saudi television channel aired a controversial documentary about the Western Sahara conflict.
The documentary, broadcast by Saudi-owned pan-Arab television, Al Arabiya, claimed that Morocco “occupied” the Western Sahara and presented Polisario as the sole “legitimate representative of the Saharawi people.”
The documentary was aired weeks after Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita told Al Jazeera that Morocco’s participation in the Yemen war has changed due to humanitarian reasons.
Following the controversial documentary, news reports indicated last week that Morocco recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Mustapha El Mansouri, “for consultations” on the relations with Saudi Arabia.
But Morocco’s foreign ministry Nasser Bourita denied that narrative. In an interview two days after news circulated of Morocco recalling Ambassador El Mansouri, Bourita said the news was “unfounded” and “not correct.”
Meantime, Rabat-Riyadh ties had already weakened following the ascension of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to power.
Saudi Arabia initially joined the Yemen war in 2015 in an attempt to curb the armed movement of the Houthis, a group of Islamic Shia rebels.