In response to recent Saudi and Emirati media provocations, the Qatari channel Al Jazeera has issued a report defending Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara.
The report criticizes a short documentary broadcasted by Saudi-owned channel Al Hadatah Al Arabiya last Wednesday questioning Morocco’s right to the Western Sahara, as well as a show by United Arab Emirates channel Abu Dhabi channel which showed the territory as separate from Morocco.
Al Jazeera’s report starts by recalling the statement issued following the first Morocco-GCC summit held in 2016 in Riyadh, where Gulf leaders stated their support for Moroccan in the Western Sahara issue, before turning to the recent Saudi and Emirati provocations. “One year after the summit, Moroccans were stunned by videos discussing Sahrawi Arabic Democratic Republic (SADR) and the right of Saharawi people in self-determination,” says the voiceover.
The report goes on to critique the UAE-aired show, which discussed Morocco’s role in promoting tolerance and eradicating terrorism. The voiceover of the report posits that Gulf States are attempting to pressure Morocco into severing ties with Qatar.
The implicit messages sent by two countries’ media arms have challenged the strength of the relations between Morocco and Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have typically supported the kingdom in the Sahara.
Coming despite a current lack of tension in the Western Sahara, the timing of the Gulf broadcasts suggests that Morocco’s neutrality in the Gulf crisis, its donation of food to Qatar during Ramadan, and its offer to mediate in the conflict have upset Saudi Arabia and UAE.