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Vol 57 No 8

Published 15th April 2016


Rabat's Cold War manoeuvre

The kingdom is desperate to roll back a series of diplomatic setbacks over the Western Sahara and has the UN in its sights

Last month's visit to Moscow by King Mohammed VI had echoes of the political manoeuvres favoured by his late father, King Hassan II, who liked to play both sides in the Cold War against each other to stop them from taking him for granted. His handshake with President Vladimir Putin followed preparation of the ground by his closest advisor, Fouad Ali el Hima, and the seasoned royal Foreign Affairs Advisor Taieb Fassi-Fihri. They were preferred to the coalition government's Foreign Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, although he was present for the royal visit itself. The overtures reflect the Palace's concern that Morocco has been losing ground internationally over the issue that is as vital to the current monarch as it was to his father from the early 1970s onwards: Moroccan control of the disputed former Spanish Sahara.

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