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Morocco recalls envoy to Germany amid tensions over Western Sahara

RABAT, Morocco — Morocco says it is recalling its ambassador to Berlin for consultations, accusing Germany of “hostile acts” two months after tensions over the disputed Western Sahara.

“The Federal Republic of Germany has stepped up hostile acts and actions that undermine the supreme interests of the kingdom,” the Moroccan foreign ministry says in a statement.

It specifically accuses Berlin of “antagonism,” following German criticism of the recognition by former US president Donald Trump of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara.

Morocco insists its claim to sovereignty over the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara is non-negotiable, despite the rival claims of the pro-independence Polisario Front, with which it fought a 1975-91 war.

On March 2, Rabat said it was suspending contacts with the German embassy in the North African kingdom over “deep misunderstandings” on “issues fundamental for Morocco.” Germany then said it had summoned the Moroccan ambassador for clarification.

Last year, Morocco joined the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in agreeing to normalize ties with Israel under US-brokered deals. In return, Trump recognized Rabat’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, a region rich in phosphates which lies near key Atlantic fishing zones.

Today, the Moroccan foreign ministry doesn’t specify what were the “hostile acts” allegedly carried out. But it also accuses German authorities of “complicity” with a “former convict.”

The foreign ministry’s statement doesn’t name the individual, but it is widely believed to be Mohamed Hajib, a German-Moroccan who was sentenced in Morocco to 10 years in prison on terror charges in 2010.He  was released after having served half his sentence, and upon his return to Germany he has been a vocal critic of Morocco on social media.

Morocco has had generally good relations with Germany, which provides it with a substantial amount of financial aid, and Germany is one of Morocco’s main trade partners.

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