Algeria has roundly rejected and denounced fresh claims by the Moroccan foreign minister that it played an “operational” role in alleged Iranian support for a pro-independence Western Sahara movement.
Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s top diplomat, had told the French-language Jeune Afrique weekly news magazine that Algiers offered more than a meeting venue for members of the separatist Polisario Front and Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement.
He had claimed that “Algeria has given more than its blessing. It has given an opening, backing and operational support.”
Rabat has accused Iran of using Hezbollah to support Polisario, a claim Tehran has sharply dismissed.
“Algeria strongly condemns and deplores the statements made by the Moroccan foreign minister in an interview, released yesterday in a Paris magazine,” the Foreign Ministry in Algiers said in a statement late on Sunday.
Algiers has criticized Rabat for not providing any evidence to support its claims, adding it continuously makes up “stories.”
Earlier this month, Morocco severed its diplomatic relations with Iran, with Bourita accusing Tehran and Hezbollah of training and arming Polisario members via the Iranian Embassy in Algeria.
Algeria, Iran and Hezbollah were all quick to reject the claims as baseless back then.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said there was no cooperation between Tehran’s diplomatic mission in Algiers and the Algeria-backed movement.
Hezbollah also blamed the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia for the diplomatic tensions, saying Rabat cut ties with Tehran under pressure from the trio.
In turn, Algeria summoned Morocco’s ambassador to protest the “unfounded” claims.
Rabat annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975, and has since then been in conflict with Polisario, which demands a referendum on self-determination and independence.
The movement, which aims to end Morocco’s presence in the Saharan region, recently said they sought to set up a “capital” in the region, prompting Rabat to caution it would respond with force.