Western Sahara

Morocco severs Iran ties over Western Sahara


Morocco says it is ending its diplomatic relations with Iran over Tehran's military support for the Western Sahara independence movement, the Polisario Front.

The Moroccan Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita said Iran and its ally, the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, were training and arming Polisario fighters.

He told reporters that Morocco will will expel the Iranian ambassador in Rabat.

The Iranians are yet to respond to the accusation.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975, and since then it's been locked in a territorial dispute with indigenous Saharawi people - led by the Polisario Front.

Morocco controls two-thirds of Western Sahara and sees it as part of its historic territory.

However some, including the UN, see Western Sahara as Africa's last colony.

A referendum was promised in 1991 but never carried out due to wrangling over who was eligible to vote.

Thousands of Sahrawi refugees still live in refugee camps in Algeria - some have been there for 40 years.

Our BBC World Service colleagues recently aired this extraordinary documentary about Saharawi athlete Salah Ameidan, which explores the complexities of living under occupation and in exile: