Moroccan diplomat assaulted physically by senior Algerian official

A Moroccan diplomat was physically assaulted by an official of the Algerian Foreign Ministry, during a meeting of the UN Committee on Decolonization “Special Committee of the 24”, which was held on the island of St. Lucia, the Caribbean, on Thursday.

The victim, Mohamed Ali Khamlichi, Deputy Chief of the Moroccan mission to St. Lucia, was attacked by Soufiane Mimouni, director general of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Following the attack, “our diplomat had to go to the hospital, the meeting was interrupted and a complaint was filed,” a   Moroccan official said.

This serious incident speaks volumes about Algerian officials’ animosity towards Moroccans, an enmity that has been growing because of Algeria’s repeated failures in its diplomatic battle against Morocco.

Morocco immediately reacted to the incident and firmly denounced “the physical aggression” of one of its diplomats. This is a “serious” incident that goes “against all diplomatic practices,” said Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

Nasser Bourita, who was interviewed by the French news agency AFP, confirmed the incident, saying that “transgressing all diplomatic habits and customs by a senior diplomat, the third in the hierarchical order of the Algerian Foreign Ministry, is serious. This kind of extreme behavior, going as far as physical aggression, is unique in the annals.”

For the Moroccan Foreign Minister “this reflects an extreme nervousness of the Algerian diplomacy: that an Algerian representative flies to Saint Lucia, and when angered by the request of our representatives, comes to blows. This is all the more surprising on the part of a country (Algeria), which claims that it is a mere observer in the Sahara conflict”.

Nasser Bourita urged Algerian leaders to rather contribute “to a solution and to shoulder their responsibility in this matter”.

He explained that over recent years, “at each of such meetings the problem of representativeness for our southern provinces arises, when our elected representatives contest the presence of the Polisario Front”.

Algerian leaders have been particularly irritated by Morocco’s return to the African Union (AU) in early 2017 and by the latest resolution adopted by the Security Council in April. The resolution calls on Algeria, as a stakeholder, to contribute to a negotiated settlement of the territorial dispute over the Sahara.

Given the many failures suffered by Algerian diplomats in their defense of the Polisario, Moroccans should expect worse behavior on the part of Algerian officials.

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