US and Morocco strengthen ties through Operation African Lion 2021

The military operation includes military exercises to be conducted in areas of Western Sahara
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Military cooperation between the United States and Morocco continues to strengthen through operation 'African Lion' with the aim of combining the two states' collaboration in the face of common threats. Likewise, the exercise is part of the programme for the modernisation of Morocco's military and defence industry.

According to Maghrebi media, a meeting was held last Saturday in the city of Agadir between US and Moroccan military personnel to finalise Operation African Lion 2021, which will take place in June. This exercise has a special feature in that the fact that it will be carried out in areas corresponding to Western Sahara reinforces "the United States' recognition of the Moroccan character of the Sahara".

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These operations will take place in the southern provinces of Tan Tan, regions with a population of around 10,000. In this area, the US has a military base with the aim of dealing with terrorism and natural disasters. This project reinforces the US presence on the continent and is an endorsement of the Mohammed VI monarchy.

The fact that the military operation will take place next June brings the military strategy between the US and Morocco back into play after the cancellation of military operations in the wake of the tension caused by the assassination of the Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani. 

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On the other hand, the US presence in the area facilitates control of the transit of supertankers arriving in Europe via the Cape of Good Hope route. Similarly, the military base oversees the region's energy complexes, as well as the gas pipeline network that runs through the Sahara and the Sahel.

According to Major General Andrew M. Rohling, "African Lion 21 is a great opportunity to strengthen one of the United States' longest-standing strategic relationships with Morocco". This operation is one of the largest military exercises in Africa and would include multi-domain operations with maritime, air and chemical-biological response exercises, as well as humanitarian actions.

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Thousands of troops from the United States, Morocco and various European and African countries are involved in the 'Lion' exercises. The joint military training, which began in 2007, is intended to further strengthen military relations and develop the field and combat skills of the participating states.

In line with the military agreement, the Moroccan Minister of National Defence, Abdellatif Loudiyi, specified Morocco's commitment to "fight terrorism and adopt humanitarian measures to resolve the migration crisis, based on its role as an actor of regional stability in the Sahel and the Mediterranean".