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Morocco and Mauritania deepen their bilateral cooperation

The Chief of Defence Staff of the Mauritanian Armed Forces met with the Minister Delegate in charge of the Moroccan National Defence Administration and the Commander of the Moroccan Southern Zone
Guerguerat Pass

AFP/FADEL SENNA  -   Guerguerat Pass

Rabat hosted on Tuesday the third session of the Moroccan-Mauritanian Joint Military Commission, in the presence of the new Chief of Staff of the Mauritanian Armed Forces, General El Mokhtar Bolle Chaâbane, who assumed the post of leader of the Mauritanian Army in December 2021, and the Inspector General of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces (FAR) and commander of the Southern Zone, General Belkhir El Farouk, with the aim of analysing various bilateral cooperation activities of the past year and planning military initiatives for the period 2022-2023, all in the presence of the heads of departments of the General Staff of the Royal Armed Forces and representatives of the Mauritanian delegation, thus highlighting the mutual relations of friendship and collaboration between the two countries. 

The two military leaders discussed activities relating to training, technical support and the exchange of knowledge between the two military bodies.  

In the Moroccan capital, General Chaâbane also met with the Minister Delegate in charge of the National Defence Administration, Abdellatif Loudiyi. "During this meeting, the two officials reaffirmed the need to deepen and broaden the spectrum of bilateral military cooperation in the field of defence and security, as well as the consolidation of the exchange of experience and knowledge between the Armed Forces with a view to addressing security threats and challenges, in particular the fight against illegal emigration and illicit trafficking," the General Staff of the FAR said in an official communiqué. 

The Moroccan-Mauritanian military cooperation is based on the memorandum on the creation of the Joint Military Commission signed in Morocco on 21 July 2006, which subsequently took more than a decade to materialise. 

Bandera Mauritania
PHOTO/PIXABAY - Mauritanian flag

As reported by the media outlet Yabiladi, this memorandum was put into practice on 29 January 2020 with a meeting that served to reinforce the two nations' "readiness to further consolidate their relations in the same spirit of friendship, mutual understanding and shared trust", according to the official communiqué of the General Staff of the FAR. 

The second session of the Joint Military Commission took place in Nouakchott, a few weeks after the FAR's military operation in mid-November 2020 in El Guerguerat in which they confronted Saharawis blocking the passage connecting the Alaouite kingdom with Mauritanian territory in a protest demanding the UN to hold the referendum on Western Saharan independence, which meant the first direct confrontation between Morocco and Polisario Front supporters since the 1991 ceasefire. It was therefore a delicate moment due to the Polisario withdrawal from the ceasefire that had been sealed, with Mauritania's position on military cooperation and collaboration with the Moroccan nation.  

The work of the new session of the Joint Military Commission took place two weeks after the first meeting in Marrakech between the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, and his new Mauritanian counterpart, Mohamed Salem Ould Merzoug.

Puesto fronterizo entre Marruecos y Mauritania en Guerguerat, situado en el Sáhara Occidental
AFP/FADEL SENNA - Morocco-Mauritania border crossing point at Guerguerat, Western Sahara

Abdellatif Loudiyi, Minister Delegate in charge of the National Defence Administration, also met with Major General El Mokhtar Bolo Chaâbane, accompanied by the ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which showed the high-level contacts between the two nations.  

The two officials also stressed the need to deepen and broaden bilateral cooperation in military, defence and security matters.  

In this way, the exchange of experiences and knowledge between the two armies is consolidated with the challenge of facing the challenges of the Maghreb region, such as illegal emigration and illicit trafficking. 

The two military leaders highlighted the mutual efforts to promote collaboration in the Western Mediterranean within the 5+5 Defence initiative, whose presidency was held by Mauritania in 2021 and which Morocco will hold in 2022, as reported by the media Medias 24.  

Morocco and Mauritania continue to strengthen ties in this regard, and the latest talks and contacts within the Joint Commission show a revival of bilateral relations, following the strong impetus given by the new Moroccan government of Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch.

Aziz Akhannouch, primer ministro de Marruecos
AFP/IAN FOSYTH - Aziz Akhannouch, prime minister of Morocco

The Alawi kingdom continues to forge important diplomatic ties with various countries, including those in the North African region, such as Mauritania, which are placing it in an important geopolitical position. These moves are providing him with a great deal of international support, as evidenced by the support of several important countries such as the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain for his proposed solution to the Western Sahara conflict based on broad autonomy for the Sahrawi territory under Moroccan sovereignty within the postulates of the UN.  

Meanwhile, the opposition position of the Polisario Front, which calls for a referendum on independence for the Sahrawi population, has less international support, including that of Algeria, Morocco's neighbour and great political enemy in the Maghreb.