Diplomatic ties between Iran and Morocco were fully restored earlier this month when Morocco’s ambassador to Iran presented his credentials to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Morocco’s appointment of an ambassador to Iran represents a new era in bilateral relations after Rabat severed ties in 2009 over what it called Tehran’s interference in Morocco’s internal affairs. In an email interview, Ann Wainscott, an assistant professor at St. Louis University, discusses Morocco’s ties with Iran.
WPR: Why did Iran and Morocco decide to restore ties, and what areas of potential cooperation are on the agenda?
Ann Wainscott: Morocco and Iran officially resumed diplomatic relations on Dec. 31, 2016 when Ambassador Hassan Hami presented his credentials in Tehran. The event was the culmination of a gradual re-establishment of relations initiated by Iran two years earlier, when it named a new ambassador to Morocco. The re-establishment of ties followed a seven-year period of tension. In 2009, Morocco broke off diplomatic relations after accusing Iran of “intolerable interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom.” In particular, Morocco expressed concern that Iran was attempting to influence the country’s religious field, which Moroccan authorities have tightly regulated since the 2003 Casablanca bombings. Rabat, which has close ties to the Gulf monarchies, also claimed that it wanted to express solidarity with Bahrain after an Iranian official stated that the island kingdom was a province of Iran. Morocco does not tolerate statements that violate the territorial sovereignty of allies, in an effort to shore up support for its own territorial dispute over the Western Sahara.