Moroccan officials have reportedly accused Iran of undermining sectarian harmony in the North African country. According to al-Quds al-Araby, Iran is pushing a “Shiite agenda” by recruiting thousands of young Moroccans in cities such as Hasima, which, according to the news outlet, has witnessed several anti-government protests in recent months. The paper also claims that the Moroccan Interior Ministry has released a report warning about Iranian activities aimed at promoting Shiite Islam and fueling unrest in the country. The report also notes that at least 40 Iranian-backed Shiite spies are stationed in Dar al-Bayda, 6,000 in Marrakesh, and hundreds more in the capital city of Rabat.
Comment: While it is difficult to ascertain whether the claims made in the report by al-Quds al-Araby are accurate, Moroccan authorities have long complained about Iranian efforts to promote Tehran’s ideological and political agenda in the Sunni kingdom. In 2009, Rabat severed diplomatic ties with Tehran accusing Iranian ambassador of seeking to promote Shiite Islam in the country. Unlike Iran’s Sunni-majority neighbors with sizable Shiite minorities – such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates – about 99 percent of Morocco’s population are Sunni Muslims and there is only a very small community of Shiite converts in the country. But Sunni Moroccan leaders say Iran’s efforts to convert Moroccan Muslims into Shiism will inflame sectarian strife in the country. Iran and Morocco reestablished diplomatic relations in January this year.