Egypt-Algeria cooperation on W. Sahara irks Morocco

An Egyptian delegation's visit to Algiers last week to attend an international conference in support of the Polisario Front has angered Rabat, a Moroccan diplomat, who declined to be named, told The Anadolu Agency

An Egyptian delegation's visit to Algiers last week to attend an international conference in support of the Polisario Front has angered Rabat, a Moroccan diplomat, who declined to be named, told The Anadolu Agency

RABAT – Perceived coordination between Egypt and Algeria to support the Polisario Front – which has long fought Morocco over the Western Sahara region – along with recent attacks on Rabat by Egypt's media, appear to be behind Moroccan state TV's increasingly critical tone vis-à-vis Egypt's leadership.

"The visit to Algiers last week by an Egyptian delegation to attend an international conference in support of the Polisario Front has angered Rabat," a Moroccan diplomat, who declined to be named, told The Anadolu Agency.

"The Egyptian media's continuous attacks on Rabat and the Moroccan people," the diplomat said, was another reason for the Moroccan state media's recent change in tone regarding the Egyptian leadership.

The diplomat did not rule out the possibility that Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry would soon visit Rabat to resolve their differences.

An Egyptian diplomat who requested anonymity told AA that Shoukry had "tasked Egypt's envoy in Rabat, Ahmed Ihab, to exert all necessary efforts to cooperate with Moroccan officials to nip the [diplomatic] crisis in the bud."

"If these efforts are not successful, the foreign minister will visit Rabat to accomplish the job," the Egyptian diplomat said.

On Thursday, two Moroccan state television channels described Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as a "coup leader." They also referred to former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi – ousted by the army in mid-2013 – as Egypt's "elected president."

It was the first time for Moroccan state media to describe the Egyptian army's ouster of Morsi as a "coup," according to an AA correspondent.

Morocco's King Mohammed VI had congratulated al-Sisi after the latter was declared president of Egypt last June.

In July, Egyptian TV anchor Amani al-Khayyat drew the ire of many Moroccans after criticizing Rabat's role in the perennial Palestine-Israel dispute.

Al-Khayyat had also asserted that prostitution was a "pillar of the Moroccan economy" and that Morocco was "among the top countries affected by HIV," suggesting that this state of affairs existed under "Islamist rule."

Moroccan activists, for their part, have urged the government – which is led by the Islamist Justice and Development Party – to demand an official apology from the Egyptian government.

Al-Khayyat later apologized for her remarks after Egypt's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that the offensive comments had "only represented the person who said them."

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