9 Arab countries, including Morocco, have pulled out from the 4th Arab-African Summit in Malabo (Equatorial Guinea), in protest against the participation of the so-called Desert Polisario separatist delegation.
The countries that withdrew from the summit in solidarity with Morocco are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Sultanate of Oman, Jordan, Yemen and Somalia.
Others are also expected to follow suit according to Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Desert Polisario separatist delegation talks of a ‘Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement’ aiming at ending Moroccan presence, in the Western Sahara. Western Sahara is home to the Algerian-backed Polisario Front in the region. The ‘Sahrawi people’ are however, the people living in the western part of Sahara desert which includes Western Sahara, other parts of southern Morocco not claimed by the Polisario, most of Mauritania, and the extreme southwest of Algeria.
According to a press release issued by the Moroccan Foreign Affairs ministry;
“All these countries back Morocco in conformity with the principles of international law including the respect of sovereignty of countries and their territorial integrity, its high esteem” for the “brotherly African country” of Equatorial Guinea, Morocco recalls the “shared commitments” made by Arab and African countries during the 2nd and 3rd Arab-African summits held respectively in Libya in 2010 and Kuwait in 2013. During these summits, Arab and African countries agreed that “only UN member countries” should be allowed to participate in the Arab-African summits.
The withdrawal of Morocco and its powerful Arab Gulf Countries has weakened the gathering which some countries used to undermine Moroccan sovereignty and territorial integrity but their plot blew up in the face.
They forgot that North African Kingdom is one of the strategic partners of the Arab rich Gulf monarchies. These countries support Moroccan territorial integrity and back its sovereignty over Sahara, hailing autonomy plan for the Moroccan Sahara.
Last April, Morocco and GCC convened in Riyadh their 1st summit meeting, a historical event that ushered in a new era in partnership between Rabat and the six-member powerful regional economic bloc, sharing common geostrategic, economic, and religious interests.
Meanwhile, Morocco withdrew from the AU in 1984, when the mineral-rich and sparsely populated Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), commonly known as Western Sahara, was accepted as a member. Morocco however requested to join the African Union again in September after 32 years, before its current reported withdrawal.