The United States and Morocco launch the largest military exercise in Africa

Soldiers from several countries attend the launch of the

The United States and Morocco, host country, launched Monday, June 20 in Agadir (south) the military exercise “African Lion 2022”, the largest on the African continent, in a climate of regional tension with neighboring Algeria .

These annual maneuvers will take place until June 30, mainly in Morocco but also in Tunisia, Senegal and Ghana, said the American command for Africa (Africom). They mobilize more than 7,500 soldiers from ten nations, including Brazil, Chad, France and the United Kingdom. Military observers from NATO and about fifteen “partner countries”, including, for the first time, Israel.

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“African Lion” aims in particular to “strengthen our common defense capabilities to counter transnational threats and violent extremist organizations”, said a statement from Africom. For his part, the number two of the Moroccan army, General Belkhir El Farouk, called on Monday in a speech to face the “security challenges”.

Artillery fire on the edge of Western Sahara

In Morocco, these land, airborne, aerial, maritime and CBRN (nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical) decontamination maneuvers will take place in Kénitra, near Rabat, and in several southern regions, in particular in Mahbès, on the Algerian border, according to the staff of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR).

As in 2021, airborne troop jumps and artillery fire are planned in the desert, on the edge of Western Sahara, not far from Tindouf, base of the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front in Algeria. The question of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony considered as a “non-self-governing territory” by the UN, has opposed Morocco to the Polisario, supported by Algiers, for decades. The Sahrawi separatists want a self-determination referendum, while Rabat promotes autonomy under its sovereignty.

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As part of an agreement negotiated by former US President Donald Trump, the United States recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over this vast desert territory in December 2020, in return for a resumption of diplomatic ties between Morocco and Israel. Algeria severed diplomatic ties with Morocco in August 2021, accusing Rabat of“hostile acts” and denouncing its military and security cooperation with “Zionist Entity” (Israel).

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The World with AFP

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