Morocco Cuts Ties with Iran over Support of Rebel Group

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Morocco accused Iran on Tuesday of providing military support to the Polisario Front and denied that its decision to sever diplomatic relations with Tehran was the result of pressure from some countries.

Morocco's foreign ministry said that severing diplomatic ties with Iran is a sovereign decision that was not taken under whatsoever influence of any country.

"One of the important and fundamental principles of Iran's foreign policy is deep respect to the sovereignty and security of other countries", he said.

Bahrain's Foreign Affairs Minister, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, in a telephone call, told Morocco's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, that Bahrain backs Morocco's decision to cut its ties with Iran.

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"Morocco's ambassador has been received today by the Secretary General at the foreign ministry who rejected the unfounded remarks", Algeria's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia, Iran's regional rival, expressed its support for Morocco's decision in a foreign ministry statement, saying it "strongly condemns Iranian interference in Morocco's internal affairs through its tool, Hezbollah's terrorist militia, which is training the elements of the so-called Polisario group".

On Tuesday, Morocco made a decision to sever relationships with Iran over its backing to Western Sahara's separatist movement the Polisario Front, the Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said. Rabat has consistently argued that Western Sahara forms an integral part of its territory. Polisario demands a referendum on self-determination be held.

The statement added that Morocco was among the few Islamic countries that normalized ties with Iran, when the Moroccan ambassador returned to his post in Tehran in November 2016, while Tehran's crisis with some Arab and Western countries was at its peak.