Morocco FM defends Gulf deployment in Bahrain

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RIYADH: Morocco’s foreign minister defended the deployment of Gulf troops to help put down protests in Bahrain, a fellow Arab monarchy, and accused Iran of meddling, in comments published on Sunday.


"Nobody can say ‘no’ to the intervention" by Bahrain’s Arab neighbors, Taieb Fassi Fihri, whose country has been invited to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), told the Saudi daily Al-Hayat.

On March 14, a Saudi-led joint contingent moved into Bahrain, freeing up local security forces in the Sunni-ruled state to crush protests led by the kingdom’s Shia majority.

Morocco has repeatedly denounced "Iranian interference in the Gulf," especially after the protests in Bahrain, which has accused Shia-dominated Iran of interference.

"We cut our relations with Iran nearly two years ago after it attempted to interfere in our affairs. Morocco is a united country and we have no Shias," said Fihri, who was on a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Asked if Iran had become a "burden" on its Arab neighbors, Fihri whose country has also been the scene of pro-democracy protests said "no doubt it has."

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on March 9 announced comprehensive constitutional reforms, including the independence of the country’s judicial system and the separation of powers.

On the GCC, Fihri said his country had "responded positively to the Gulf invitation and it is important for it to take place gradually."

Joining the grouping of the six oil-rich Arab monarchies of the Gulf "needs time and no timeframe has yet been set for it to begin," the foreign minister said.

The GCC states last week "welcomed" a Jordanian request to join the organization and invited Morocco to do the same.

Morocco and Jordan are the only Arab monarchies outside the Gulf grouping, which brings together Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The monarchies have been relatively unscathed by the wave of pro-democracy revolts sweeping the Arab world since January.


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