The Morocco-United States military manoeuvres begin on Monday 7 June and will last until Friday 18 June. They will take place in the regions of Agadir, Tiznit, Tan Tan, Tafraout, Ben Guerir, Kenitra and will definitely include territories close to Western Sahara (Mahbes region), according to an official statement from the General Staff of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR).
The multinational joint force, 'African Lion 21', is part of the exercises conducted jointly by the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) and the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces. Its mission pursues the objective of cooperation and training, thus promoting the possibility of sharing knowledge and different experiences between the different military components, according to the communiqué.
This year marks the 17th edition of this exercise, which will include, in addition to the United States and Morocco, the participation of Great Britain, Brazil, Canada, Tunisia, Senegal, the Netherlands and Italy, as well as military observers from several African, European and American countries.
The military manoeuvres conducted jointly by the participants take place on the African continent, off the coast of Morocco. It is here that the US and Morocco, along with other countries that do not include Spain, are going to carry out a large deployment of weapons in the exercises known as 'African Lion 21'.
Despite the foresight with which these activities were organised, it is true that they come at a complex time for Spanish-Moroccan relations, whose situation has turned into a conflict over the reception in Spain of Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali, under a false identity and without Morocco's knowledge.
Rabat has established itself as the US's biggest ally in North Africa, handling considerable arms purchases. Last Saturday, a meeting was held between Moroccan and US military officials to finalise preparations for 'African Lion 21', according to reports in the Maghreb media.
This year's manoeuvres have a particular character because they consolidate US recognition of the Moroccan character of the Sahara.
The 'African Lion 21' army takes advantage of its regional organisation and international training to maintain stability in the region through peace operations, including strategies to combat the growing problem of jihadism, especially in the Sahel area. Its mission is to "confront violent extremist organisations, maintain border security and counter transnational threats", AFRICOM explains on its website.
Earlier combat operations against terrorist organisations will include command and training activities; ground, air, maritime and NRBQ (Nuclear, Radiological, Biological and Chemical) decontamination exercises, the statement said.
Humanitarian missions will also be deployed, such as the installation of a medical-surgical field hospital in Amlen (Tafraout), where FAR and US medical services will treat the local population.