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Iran: Morocco’s move to cut ties harms Islamic unity | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iran said on Saturday Morocco’s decision to cut diplomatic links with the Islamic Republic harmed the unity of the Islamic world and it rejected Rabat’s accusations of interference as “false and baseless”.

Following an outcry in the Sunni Muslim world over a statement by an Iranian official reportedly questioning Sunni-ruled Bahrain’s sovereignty, Morocco’s foreign ministry said on Friday Rabat had severed diplomatic ties with Tehran.

Morocco also criticised Iran for efforts to spread its Shi’ite brand of Islam in Morocco, a move the ministry said it saw as threat to the North African country’s moderate Sunni religious identity.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement it was surprised by Morocco’s decision.

“Accusations by this country regarding the interference (of Iran) in Morocco’s domestic affairs are completely false and baseless,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“In the current sensitive conditions when the unity and the solidarity of Islamic countries is the main necessity for supporting the Palestinian people, this action by Morocco harms the Islamic world’s unity,” the statement said.

According to media reports, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said last month Shi’ite Iran had sovereignty over Bahrain. Iran has said the remarks had been misunderstood and misinterpreted.

In response Morocco’s King Mohammed sent the Bahraini monarch, King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa, a message of support, calling the Iranian remarks “absurd” and a contradiction of international law.

Iran says its relations with Bahrain are based on mutual respect and denies having claims over the island, which has a sizeable Shi’ite population.

On Feb. 25, Rabat recalled its envoy to Iran to protest what Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri said was “inappropriate language” directed against Morocco in a communique reported by the official Iranian news agency IRNA.

The Moroccan government has always been concerned about Iran’s role in the Sunni world since its Shi’ite Islamic revolution toppled the monarchy in Tehran.

Morocco, which enjoyed warm ties with Iran under the U.S.-backed shah until he was deposed in 1979, only normalised its relations with Iran by exchanging envoys in the late 1990s.