Agadir – Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita received on Thursday, January 14 in Rabat three new ambassadors to Morocco, representing South Africa, Rwanda, and Ireland.
Not much is known about Ebrahim Edries, the new ambassador of South Africa. In an interview with Saudi Gazette, Edries talks about his previous posts, having worked in the ”South African Embassy in Iran, then Angola, and then in 2006 [when he went to open a South African Embassy] in Sudan,” leading into his post as the general consul in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, appointed him as the head of the embassy in Rabat, the first time that South Africa has agreed to raise the level of its diplomatic representation in Morocco since the reestablishment of relations in the 1990s.
Morocco appointed Youssef Amrani to the post of ambassador to South Africa in 2018, rekindling the hope of a rapprochement between the two countries.
According to the Daily Maverick, a South African daily online newspaper, “[South African] career diplomats are disgruntled that they continue to be overlooked in favour of political appointments for plum ambassadorships,” yet Ebrahim Edries is one of the six professional diplomats appointed, compared to 10 political appointments.
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If Mr. Edris shows through his work a commitment to diplomacy, that can only be a positive sign for the future of Moroccan and South African diplomatic relations.
Over the years, Western Sahara has become a point of contention between Morocco and South Africa, souring diplomatic ties and sowing division. Similarly to Algeria, South Africa is among the few decreasing number of countries that still support the Polisario Front’s claims of independence.
“Why in this day and age, one African country is allowed to colonize another,” South Africa’s Finance Minister Tito Mboweni shared on Twitter back in October. In a recent visit, the Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum flew to South Africa to petition Ramaphosa over recent developments in Western Sahara.
Based on the recent meeting between the two foreign ministers, South Africa seems to also adopt a “war” narrative in order to twist the situation in Western Sahara, continuing to challenge Morocco’s territorial integrity.
With South Africa’s blatant disregard of historical facts showing Morocco’s sovereignty over the region, it has painted the Western Sahara issue as a “decolonization struggle.”
Hopefully, with the appointment of a new ambassador, a career diplomat, and the growing recognition of Western Sahara as a Moroccan territory, South Africa will change its stance and allow for more amicable relations in the future.