Morocco reinforces its sovereignty over the Sahara

The African Lion manoeuvres in collaboration with the US will help consolidate Morocco in the southern areas
African Lion Exercises

PHOTO/ARCHIVE  -   African Lion Exercises

The African Lion 2022 manoeuvres, which will begin on 20 June, will include the Mahbas region of the Sahara for the second time and are organised jointly with the United States and 18 other countries. According to observers, this work helps to enhance the Kingdom's strategic role in the north of the African continent and consolidates its sovereignty in the southern regions.

The headquarters of the Southern Region High Command hosted a planning meeting in January for the "African Lion 2022" exercises. This year, many countries, including the United States, will participate in training areas located in the regions of Kenitra, Benguerir, Agadir, Tan-Tan and Taroudant, as well as in the Sahara under the control of the Kingdom of Morocco.

According to a statement released by the General Staff of the Royal Armed Forces, this meeting served to lay the groundwork for the exercises, identify the methods of implementation of various activities part of the manoeuvres, including: training related to land, air and maritime operations, assignment of part of the armies to combat violent terrorist organisations whose actions have increased in North Africa.

PEjercicios Léon Africano
PHOTO/ARCHIVE - African Lion Exercises
African Lion manoeuvres reach their second edition

The first time African and European armies participated together in military exercises in Morocco was in 2007 in the first edition of these manoeuvres, which aim to "support the manoeuvre capabilities of participating units, improve interoperability among participants in planning and implementing joint operations within the framework of the alliance, master tactics and techniques and develop cyber defence skills," according to Arab media reports.

Morocco consolidates its position as the ideal venue

Despite Morocco's territorial disputes in the Sahara, which have caused significant friction with Algeria, the Kingdom of Morocco has established itself as the ideal venue for military training exercises. According to Mohamed Salem Abdel-Fattah, the head of the Sahrawi Observatory for Media and Human Rights, the extension of the area dedicated to the joint exercises, as well as the increase in the number of countries participating in them and the large number of qualitative and advanced weapons used in them indicate the support Morocco receives from the international community. 

The manoeuvres have been reinforced by the highly successful participation of foreign powers, both at the continental and international level. According to Moroccan media, this confirms their seriousness and the extent to which the international community needs this space to enhance its military and security capabilities to deal with recent phenomena such as terrorism, illegal immigration and organised crime.

Ejercicios Léon Africano
PHOTO/ARCHIVE - African Lion Exercises

The commander of the US Africa Command, General Stephen Townsend, stated that these exercises are a very important exercise for the militaries located in the region: "Following the previous version of the exercises, the African Lion is the largest and most important exercise we have in Africa, helping us to develop readiness and strengthen partnerships to work better in a complex, multi-domain environment," he said last June, adding: "We remain focused on maintaining close relationships with our allies and partners".

Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.