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Moroccan anger over Western Sahara baffles Sweden

The Moroccan government has called for an economic boycott against Sweden for allegedly changing its position to back Western Saharan independence.
A man takes part in a demonstration in support of Western Sahara's independence, in Madrid November 16, 2014. Thirty-nine years after Spain left Western Sahara in the hands of Moroccan troops, two thirds of its territory still remain under the rule of Rabat. The leader of Polisario Front and president of the The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, demanded the mediation of Spanish authorities in a conflict that started when the former colony was abandoned days before the death of Spanish Di
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RABAT, Morocco — The Moroccan government announced a decision Oct. 1 to boycott Swedish companies, crowning a week of diplomatic tensions driven by Moroccan accusations of a change in Sweden's stance on the Western Sahara, where conflict has been ongoing since 1975, when Spain relinquished colonial rule over the territory and Morocco ultimately seized it. The Polisario Front, representing the indigenous Saharawi people, was founded in 1973 and has been fighting for Western Saharan independence from Morocco and for recognition of the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Rabat believes that Sweden, after being neutral on the conflict, is now biased in favor of Western Saharan independence.

According to official Moroccan sources who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, information they had received about the Swedish government’s intention to soon acknowledge an independent Saharan republic was the straw that broke the camel’s back. On Sept. 28, the Royal Palace called on Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane to hold an urgent meeting of the leaders from the main political parties and unions to discuss how to politically, diplomatically and economically express the state's displeasure with the Swedes. Later that day, authorities announced the cancellation of the opening of what would have been the first IKEA store in the country, near Mohammedia City.

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