Iranian Cultural Attaché Leaves Algeria After Rounds of Accusations

Rabat – The Iranian embassy cultural attaché has left Algeria. Moussawi’s departure followed rounds of accusations from both Algerian activists and Moroccan officials. Algerian activists and officials had called on the Algerian government to expel Moussawi for his alleged “dangerous and suspicious” actions in the country.After Morocco cut diplomatic ties with Iran on May 1 over Hezbollah-Polisario alleged collusion, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita accused Moussawi of “having the power to fund the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.” “[It’s] our understanding that he’s more powerful than the ambassador himself and his connection(s) are the strategic advisors to the Supreme Guide to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Bourita in an interview with Fox News in May.Moussawi announced his departure from Algeria in a Facebook post on Sunday. He thanked Algeria and commended the “good cooperation we received from the official and popular circles.”Several Algerian activists had accused the cultural attaché of spreading Shia ideology among youth in Algeria.The Baghdad Post reported in May that Moussawi succeeded in recruiting “thousands of Shiites in Algeria as their number increased from around 3,000 Shiites in 2013 to nearly 100,000 by the end of 2017.” Moussawi arrived in Algeria in 2015.The former adviser to Algeria’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, Idah Falahi, told Asharq Al-Awsat that he urged the Iranian diplomat to resign from his position in order to protect the public interest.“I think it has become necessary for the cultural attaché at the Iranian Embassy to be relieved of his duties and position,” he said Falahi also questioned Moussawi’s movements and actions in the country.Asharq Al-Awsat also reported that Iran is seeking g to indoctrinate and hire Algerian Shiites “who travel to Iraq on religious visits to the holy city of Karbala.”The news outlet quoted Algerian MP Abdurrahman Saidi, who believes that Iranian efforts seek to establish a “regional Shiite movement called ‘Maghreb Party,’” as reported by the Middle East Institute.Morocco has expressed about the alleged threat that Iran poses in the Middle East and Africa through its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah. In a recent interview with US media outlet Breitbart News, Bourita said that Iran wanted to develop a presence in Morocco.“Today they are repeating the efforts in other North African countries. They attracted some of our youth by giving them scholarships,” he said.Bourita said that Morocco first severed ties with Iran in 2009 when Rabat noticed suspicious actions from an Iranian cultural attaché.According to Bourita, the Iranian diplomat used to visit “small cities of Morocco making what he was calling book festivals. He was giving books. He was present in every small city.”Moroccan authorities also said that the Iranian diplomat had been attempting to convince Moroccan youth to favor Shia Islam as practiced in Iran.

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