As King Mohammed VI of Morocco is undertaking a Gulf tour seen by many observers as bearing a mediation potential to defuse the tension that has been brewing between Qatar and its neighbors since last June, an odd image has been widely circulated on social networks.
The image shows the Moroccan Monarch holding a sling with an inscription apparently defying Qatar’s neighbors that have severed ties and cut sea, ground and air links with the tiny Emirate that they accuse of supporting terrorism and tightening ties with Iran.
The odd image prompted some Moroccan media to check its authenticity and the answer was clear-cut: “it is a grotesque montage!”
The answer was given by advisor to the King Yassir Zenagui when questioned by le360 news outlet about the picture.
“We are surprised by this image, because it is an image and not a photograph. It’s a grotesque montage!” he said. “I was present next to His Majesty during all his walks during this trip, and at no time did he hold the sling or took part in a picture with the sling,” said Zenagui, insisting that “it is a grotesque montage”.
The inscription on the sling “you have the world and we have Tamim” is a catchphrase that has been widely circulated by Qataris in support for their ruler Sheikh Tamim and in defiance of the countries that are blockading Qatar, namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt. It is a Qatar-Qatar backing message, not intended for foreigners, let alone for a head of state, with a special stature in the whole Gulf region.
In this connection, Qatar has officially reacted to the incident and deplored the photomontage as unfortunate.
The Qatari government’s chief communications officer Sheikh Saif Bin Ahmed Bin Saif Al Thani said an investigation has been open to identify the authors of the photoshopping and determine “the party who has tried to mislead public opinion and to undermine the symbols of the States”.
“This unacceptable act denotes an attempt to mar Mohammed VI’s visit to Qatar” Sheikh Saif Saif pointed out, adding that the royal visit had been “a success in all respects and that it had contributed to deepening and developing the fraternal relations between the two countries”.
The circulation of the photoshopped picture is underpinned by malicious designs, tending to undermine the excellence of Morocco’s relations with Gulf countries.
Given the constructive neutrality that Morocco has adopted since the Gulf crisis erupted last June, and given the close brotherly ties binding King Mohammed VI to all the leaders of the Gulf countries, it goes without saying that all the Moroccan Monarch wants is to create a serene climate conducive to the restoration of sound relations among the members of the GCC.
It is worth recalling in this connection that before visiting Qatar, King Mohammed VI paid a five-day visit to the UAE where he conferred with several leaders and senior officials, including with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyane, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
It is also worth recalling that Morocco had expressed its willingness to mediate in the crisis between the GCC member states, stating that “If the parties wish so, Morocco is ready to offer its good offices conducive to a calm, franc and comprehensive dialog on the basis of non-interference in domestic affairs, the fight against religious extremism, clarity in positions and loyalty in commitments”.
So, nothing and nobody can cast doubt on Morocco’s constructive neutrality and on its sincere desire to heal the atmosphere and re-unite the Gulf brothers.