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MOROCCO: For cheap Saudi oil, Rabat broke ties with Iran, cracked down on Shiites, leaked cable says


At Saudi Arabia's urging, Morocco broke ties with Iran and began a domestic campaign against Moroccan Shiites in exchange for economic trade-offs, an Egyptian diplomat told sources at the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, according to a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable published by the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar.

"[The diplomat] said goading Iran, a country with which it had limited economic interests, and demonizing the Shi'a, a powerless minority group, was a small price for Morocco to pay for a strategy that could have major payoffs," the April 2009 cable read.

In exchange for active Moroccan support, Saudi Arabia allegedly promised to ensure the flow of subsidized oil and compensate for the loss in direct foreign investment in Morocco resulting from the global financial crisis.

The diplomat, whose name had been redacted from the cable, also said that the domestic campaign against Shiites was intended to neutralize opposition groups in the municipal elections and reassert King Mohammed VI's authority as a religious leader.

Morocco broke ties with Iran in March 2009, accusing Tehran of using its embassy in Rabat as a base for spreading Shiite Islam. The formal break in relations was followed by a crackdown on Morocco's tiny Shiite minority, which resulted in the closure of religious schools and the arrest of hundreds of people.

The diplomatic source quoted in the leaked cable said a former Iranian ambassador had used the embassy as a regional base for visiting African countries, where he gave lectures and offered scholarships to Iran for promising Shiite scholars.

Egypt and Iran have a history of strained relations, and the cable notes that the diplomat may have had ulterior motives for informing the Americans.

In other cables leaked by the watchdog site WikiLeaks, Egyptian President Mosni Mubarak was quoted as telling American diplomats that the Iranians are "liars" and pose a threat to the Arab world.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Moroccan King Mohammed VI, right, meets with the Saudi crown prince, Sultan ibn Abdulaziz, in Agadir, Morocco. Credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (4)

"demonizing the Shi'a" Shiaa in Morocco?. I am Moroccan and have never heard or seen shiaa there. Please try to find me one. The only shia that may have been their were the Iranian diplomates and thank God they are gone. This is a totally false information.
Why would an opinion of an Egyptian diplomat be considered a fact? This is worthless and baseless news.

I would take this as usual with a pinch of salt...I agree with TB.
a far as Wikileaks is concerned, iit is still unclear if those are "organised leaks" or not. Over the years, teh world had a fantastic history of propaganda so everything is possible. the questions are: what is behind it? for what purpose?

Arab governments working against Iran!
It would have been shocking news if one had missed their total backing of Saddam war against Iran few decades ago!
On a plus side, these exposed governments now have to openly declare their hostility toward Iran or bend backward with lot more incentives for Iran in order to keep a situation "as it is" in Middle-East, I'm betting these leaks will be put in good use by Iran policy makers while US government and her foreign leeches have to work overtime for a long time to get back to a level of sincerity which they were at before publication of these leaked documents!

Why are you taking hearsay, some low level Egyptian informant/diplomat's viewpoint as fact and news. Morocco had its own reasons for cutting relations with Iran and those need not be reflected in cables of misinformed US embassy staff in Rabat.


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