Morocco and Iran rekindle relationship

Morocco and Iran rekindle relationship
3 min read
06 January, 2015
Rabat and Tehran have signalled a warming of diplomatic relations, five years after Morocco accused Iran of spreading its brand of Shia Islam within the kingdom.
The Iranian embassy in Rabat is expected to re-open soon [AFP]

Diplomatic relations between Morocco and Iran seem to be under repair, five years after they were broken off. Iran recently announced it had appointed Mohammad Taqi Moayyed as its ambassador in Morocco, while Morocco also announced its appointment of a new ambassador to Iran.

Renovations have begun in and around the Iranian embassy in Rabat, and the re-opening of Morocco's embassy in Tehran "is just a matter of time", said a senior official in the Moroccan foreign ministry.

"We also need to choose a person capable of being the kingdom's ambassador there," he told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"The decision to restore Iran-Morocco relations was not conceived on the spur of the moment, it goes back to February last year when there was a phone conversation between the foreign ministers of both countries, in which they agreed on the general terms of the bilateral relations and left the details for later."

     The decision to restore Iran-Morocco relations was not conceived on the spur of the moment.
- Moroccan foreign ministry official

President Hassan Rouhani has backed Mohammad Taqi Moayyed as Iranian ambassador to Morocco, reported IRNA, Iran's state news agency. Moayyed is understood to have been nominated by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Morocco broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in March 2009 because of what an official called "Iran's unacceptable position towards Morocco and interference in its domestic and religious affairs".

Morocco accused Iran of trying to undermine the kingdom's Maliki Sunni school of Islamic thought and spread its Shia brand of Islam.

Signs of reconciliation

The attendance of Communications Minister Mustapha al-Khalfi at the 10th Islamic Conference of Information Ministers held in Tehran in early December was seen as a signal that a diplomatic rapprochement was underway.

Previously, there was the reported phone conversation between Zarif and his Moroccan counterpart, Salaheddine Mezouar, which touched on "restoring the severed diplomatic relations".

Iran's permanent representative to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation also attended the 20th session of the Jerusalem Committee in Marrakech in January 2014.

"I think Rouhani is relying on his policy of reform to try and resolve the political and economic isolation of his country," said Taj-Eddine Houssaini, a professor of international relations at Rabat's Mohammed V University.

"He is struggling to overcome problems by opening up Tehran to the region to take advantage of the current political opportunities."

Houssaini said he thought restored relations would be politically beneficial for both countries, with Iran hoping Morocco would be its gateway into Africa. It may also play a positive role in Iran's tense relations with the Emirates, he added.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.