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Rabat and Tehran agree to restore diplomatic relations after five-year freeze

March 22, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Rabat and Tehran decided on Wednesday to resume diplomatic relations, which had been severed since March 2009. The Moroccan press linked the decision to Iran’s improving relations with Western states and to Morocco’s new diplomatic orientation aiming to promote its presence in the international arena.

The Iranian media were quick to cover the announcement of the restoration of relations. The official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Iranian Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian as saying that, “Iran and Morocco have underlined the need to re-establish diplomatic relations between the two countries.”

Abdollahian continued: “The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Moroccan counterpart Salaheddine Mezouar reaffirmed the importance of the ties between their countries and their people, stressing the need to resume diplomatic relations.”

He also confirmed that the embassies of the two countries would be re-opened soon.

Morocco had abruptly decided to cut relations with Iran in 2009 against the backdrop of what was seen by Rabat as inappropriate statements by the Iranian foreign ministry regarding Bahrain. Morocco condemned Tehran’s alleged meddling in Bahrain’s affairs.

According to the online newspaper Hespress, Moroccan policy analyst Essam Ahmidan commented that: “If the return of Moroccan-Iranian relations is a mission in and of itself, these relations should be fortified so they will not be sabotaged by hostile parties.”

“Here lies the importance of the parallel diplomatic role played by the Moroccan-Iranian Parliamentary Friendship Association, political parties and civil society groups.” Ahmidan added.

The online newspaper Alif Post suggested that the Moroccan decision to restore relations with Iran is linked to the on-going developments in the West’s relationship with Tehran in the wake of the historic agreement that was reached in Geneva last December over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Alif Post also pointed to a Wikileaks document issued by the Moroccan embassy in Washington, which stated that the reason for why Morocco had cut off ties with Iran was Rabat’s attempt to appease Saudi Arabia.