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France and Morocco’s controversial relations under scrutiny

In a recent development, French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed his disapproval of the controversial relations between France and Morocco.

This comes after Morocco declined France’s offer of assistance in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that struck the Marrakesh region. While Morocco accepted aid from four other countries, including Spain, the UK, Qatar, and the UAE, it chose not to seek assistance from France, triggering questions and speculation.

France and Morocco's controversial relations under scrutiny
France and Morocco’s controversial relations under scrutiny

Macron, in response to Morocco’s decision, stated that France stands ready to intervene promptly upon receiving a request from the Moroccan authorities. However, he felt compelled to directly address the Moroccan people in a video message, where he emphasized that the organization of international aid is a matter of complete sovereignty for His Majesty the King and the Moroccan government. Macron reiterated that France respects Morocco’s sovereign choice in coordinating external assistance.

The French President also called for an end to the controversies and divisions surrounding this issue, urging all parties involved to refrain from complicating an already tragic situation. Macron emphasized the importance of showing respect to everyone affected by the earthquake and lamented that divisive debates were only hindering relief efforts.

France and Morocco's controversial relations under scrutiny
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – JULY 18: French President Emmanuel Macron makes a speech during press conference at the end of the EU-CELAC summit in Brussels, Belgium on July 18, 2023. ( Nicolas Landemard – Anadolu Agency )

The controversy surrounding the relations between France and Morocco raises pertinent questions about the dynamics between the two nations. While France has historically maintained strong ties with Morocco, the recent events highlight strains in the diplomatic relationship. Morocco’s decision to reject French assistance has undoubtedly raised eyebrows and sparked discussions about the potential underlying causes.

The earthquake in the Marrakesh region has created a dire need for international support, making it crucial for countries to come together and offer aid. However, Morocco’s exclusion of France leaves room for speculation about the state of their bilateral relationship. It is essential for both France and Morocco to address any underlying issues and ensure that their diplomatic ties remain strong and mutually beneficial.

France and Morocco's controversial relations under scrutiny
France and Morocco’s controversial relations under scrutiny

The relationship between Morocco and France, which has a significant Moroccan community, has experienced some challenges in recent times. The Algerian decision to sever diplomatic ties with Rabat in 2021, citing “hostile actions” by the Kingdom, has added to the tension. Additionally, the restrictions that Paris imposed on granting visas to Moroccans, which were lifted in December, have also impacted the relationship. Currently, there is no Moroccan ambassador to France.

Morocco is concerned that Paris has not shown a willingness to change its position on the Western Sahara issue, which remains a contentious topic. Morocco believes that France should follow the lead of the US and Israel, which have recognized the “Moroccanness” of Western Sahara. The territory is disputed by Morocco and the Polisario Front, which is supported by Algeria, despite Rabat controlling approximately 80% of it.

In a message to the Moroccan people, the French President expressed solidarity, stating that “We are at your side today and tomorrow.” Furthermore, Paris has announced aid of €5 million for NGOs in Morocco that contribute to relief efforts, in addition to the frozen French aid awaiting Rabat’s approval.

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