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Global: Morocco Closes Caracas Embassy

Morocco announced this week that it would close its embassy in Venezuela due to Venezuela's recognition of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), the territory also known as the “Western Sahara,” over which Morocco asserts its sovereignty. Forty-eight countries recognize SADR, and thirteen of those are home to Saharawi embassies (see image below).

Moroccan blogger Ibn Kafka provides a timeline of events between Morocco and Venezuela:

Ceux qui me lisent connaissent le peu d’estime que j’ai pour les séparatistes, et quelques uns me le reprochent même régulièrement. Je me sens d’autant plus à l’aise pour vous communiquer les éléments d’information suivants, sous forme de calendrier.

3 août 1982: le Vénézuela reconnaît la “République arabe sahraouie démocratique“, qui a une ambassade à Caracas depuis cette date – voir son site (qui ne fait pas très sérieux, mais c’est une autre affaire).

2 septembre 2004: le président vénézuelien Hugo Chavez rencontre officiellement Abdelaziz el Marrakchi, leader des séparatistes, et affirme publiquement le soutien du gouvernement de la république bolivarienne du Vénézuela à la cause séparatiste.

6 juin 2008: un nouvel “ambassadeur” sahraoui est accrédité à Caracas, et est reçu par le ministre vénézuelien des affaires étrangères pour lui remettre ses “lettres de créance”.

27 décembre 2008: Israël lance sa guerre d’agression contre Gaza.

6 janvier 2009: le président de la république bolivarienne du Vénézuela, Hugo Chavez, déclare persona non grata l’ambassadeur d’Israël au Vénézuela, qui a 72 heures pour quitter le pays.

15 janvier 2009: un communiqué de la MAP annonce que le Maroc a décidé de rompre les relations diplomatiques avec le Vénézuela “en réaction à l’hostilité ouvertement affichée par ce pays à l’égard de l’intégrité territoriale du Maroc, compromettant tout effort de développement de la coopération bilatérale“. Le communiqué rajoute: “La république bolivarienne n’a pas cessé d’afficher ouvertement [son] hostilité au Maroc, joignant la parole aux actes, au plus haut niveau de l’Etat, portant ainsi un grave préjudice aux relations de bonne entente entre les deux pays“. Tout ceci est vrai, mais les jalons de cette attitude vénézuelienne vis-à-vis de la question du Sahara ont été posés entre 1982 (date de la reconnaissance de la “RASD” par le Vénézuela) et juin 2008 (date de la dernière accréditation d’un “ambassadeur” de la “RASD” au Vénézuela). Le Maroc réagit donc avec entre 6 mois et 27 ans de retard, selon le critère que l’on pourrait choisir pour déterminer le moment à compter duquel le Vénézuela a “affiché son hostilité à l’intégrité territoriale du Maroc“.

Those who read my blog know the little esteem I have for the separatists, and some even reproach me for it regularly. I feel even more comfortable communicating to you the following pieces of information, in the form of a timeline.

3 August 1982: Venezuela recognizes the “Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic”, which has had an embassy in Caracas since – see its website (which is not very professional, but that's another matter).

2 September 2004: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez formally meets Abdelaziz el Marrakchi, leader of the separatists, and asserts the public support of the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the separatist cause.

6 June 2008: a new Saharawi “ambassador” is accredited in Caracas, and is received by the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs to submit his “credentials.”

27 December 2008: Israel launches its war of aggression against Gaza.

6 January 2009: President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, declares Israel's ambassador to Venezuela persona non grata, giving him 72 hours to leave the country.

15 January 2009: a press release of the MAP [Maghreb Arabe Presse, Morocco's state news agency) says that Morocco has decided to sever diplomatic relations with Venezuela “in response to the open hostility displayed by that country with regard to Morocco's territorial integrity, undermining any effort bilateral cooperation efforts.” The release adds: “The Bolivarian Republic has continued to openly display its hostility to Morocco, joining the call to action at the highest level of government, dealing a serious injury to the good relations between the two countries.” All this was true, but the foundations of this Venezuelan attitude vis-à-vis the Sahara issue were laid between 1982 (date of recognition of the SADR by Venezuela) and June 2008 (date of last accreditation of an “ambassador” of the “SADR” in Venezuela). Morocco therefore reacts 27 years and 6 months too late, according to the criteria which we could choose to determine the moment that Venezuela might have “shown its hostility to the territorial integrity of Morocco.”

Roads to Iraq ties the incident to Israel, saying:

Morocco cuts relations with Venezuela because the Latin-American country supports the Polisario, who are recognized by more than 64 countries in the world and Venezuela, had already relations with the Polisario since the 80s.

But if you read what Moroccan newspaper Attajdid wrote that Israel’s exports to Morocco last year reached $19.6 Million, Morocco’s exports to Israel about $3.6 Million, then you can understand the real reason.

Nimr of the Arab-American blog KABOBfest also raised the issue, and referring to how often Venezuelan embassies have turned up in the news lately, says:

Well if you can dish it, hope you can take it: Now Morocco is closing its embassy in Caracas in protest over Venezuela's support for the Polisario:

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the decision followed “increasing hostility by the Venezuelan authorities regarding the Kingdom of Morocco's territorial integrity and recent measures to support (Polisario)”.Why do stern diplomatic communiques always sound like a passive-aggressive ex-girlfriend? “I mean, we are not mad at you, ya know? We are mad that you don't respect our, like, integrity…”

Fortunately, Kabob Mediation Services™ has stepped up and figured out a solution to everyone's benefit. Morocco, Israel and Morocco have all agreed that in the event of a future diplomatic row, participants will simply hurl metallic devices devices at the French.

Egyptian blogger Zeinobia is perplexed by Morocco's timely decision:

Mentioning the news of official Morocco , why did really the Moroccan government withdraw its ambassador from Carcass ?? Is it really for the Western Sahara issue !!??

Well I think it is plain stupid now with my all respect because Venezuela has recognized the Western Sahara since 1982 !!!!  So I wonder why King Hassan II did not withdraw his ambassador from Carcass all that time.

Surely Carcass is not the only capital that recognize the Western Sahara as an independent entity. For God sake there are other countries in the world that recognize the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic “SADR”. Strangely these countries are still having Moroccan Embassies like for instance Mexico so why now Mohamed IV decides this strange decision when Venezuela becomes the new ally of Arabs in South America ?? In time we are in a very bad need to an ally.

I still do not get this move at all.

  • http://nickbrooks.wordpress.com Nick Brooks

    Jillian, thanks for gathering these blog entries together. A higher resolution version of you map, with a source cited, would be really helpful. Sorry to be so demanding!

  • http://jilliancyork.com Jillian York

    No problem Nick – where can I get a higher resolution version? I believe the map was marked as Fair Use on Wikipedia, but I’m happy to cite it – to whom should it be attributed?

  • http://nickbrooks.wordpress.com Nick Brooks

    Hi Jillian. Ah, the Wikipedia reference does it for me. They might have more information on source data. I haven’t looked at the Wikipedia Western Sahara pages for some time. I just wondered where you’d found it, as it’s a pretty handy graphic. I’ll check it out on Wikipedia – maybe it’s higher resolution there. Thanks.

  • Pingback: Bed of thorns for Morocco and Chavezuela..(?) « My pinky isn’t fat!

  • Pingback: Morocco out of touch with the emerging left-wing Latin America « Maghreb Politics Review

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