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African Lion Exercises: The Geopolitical Implications

African Lions Military Operation: Morocco and US‘s Paths and Geopolitical implications

The American Morocco’s military cooperation has been progressing the last two decades. Morocco is laterally a privilege partner for Washington in the North African region, particularly the American recognition of the Moroccan sovereignty over the Moroccan Sahara and its initiative of self-autonomy plan pave the way to a strong and constructive Military partnership. The roots of the historical relations between the two countries date back to the American independence 1776. Morocco was one of the first countries recognizing the U.S.A as an independent and sovereign country. During the cold war, Morocco had been aligned with the western bloc opting for a capitalism and market economy choice and, for ideological reasons, has been distanced with the communist bloc. After the end of the cold war and the collapse of USSR, U.S and Morocco conduct a very profound understanding and cooperation framework, which serve their interest outstandingly in the military field.  The African Lion is one of the most relevant features of the military cooperation between U.S and Morocco.  

African Lion, a combined joint exercise organized each year by FAR and the US Armed Forces began this year on June 05, 2023 in several regions of the Kingdom – Agadir, Tan-Tan, Mehbes, Tiznit, Kenitra, Benguerir and Tifnit – with the participation of 6,000 military personnel representing 14 countries. The exercise is intended to be an annual event that helps consolidate Moroccan-American military cooperation and strengthen exchanges between the armed forces of different countries with a view to promoting security and stability in the region.

African Lion 2023 concluded with a series of air and ground war maneuvers on Friday in Tan-Tan, Morocco. The exercises involved coordinated air raids by Moroccan and American aircraft, along with land maneuvers simulating actual combat operations.

Through the African Lion, Washington considers that it is time to rethink the U.S. military’s contributions to peace and security in sub-Saharan Africa. It is imperative for the U.S. military to reaffirm its non-counterterrorism missions in the region and to reform how it executes its counterterrorism programs to ensure that the United States continues to preserve and protect its national security interests.

The United States recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over the entire Moroccan Sahara territory and reaffirms its support for Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal as the only basis for a just and lasting solution to the dispute over the Morocco`s Sahara territory. New dynamics has been implemented in the region due to the American recognition. The main European countries have been aligned with Washington diplomatic position and seek to deepen their partnership with Morocco. For instance Spain and Germany have overcome their misunderstanding which has been overshadowed their relationship with Morocco during the last two years.

In return, The United States provides very little military  foreign assistance to Algeria and the decision by the Trump administration to formally recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Moroccan Sahara region is likely to diminish what little leverage the US did have with Algiers. Any effort by the US to encourage reform through withholding or offering additional funding is unlikely to yield significant results. In 2018 the US government spent $2.13 million in Algeria, nearly half of which went to humanitarian assistance, with only $20,000 spent on promoting democracy and good governance. One reason for the low level of assistance is suspicion about many forms of foreign involvement by both the Algerian government and people. As one US official told us, a call by the US government for proposals for civil society support regarding improved democracy and governance received no responses from Algerian NGOs.

Thus, in Algeria, the Biden administration will need a delicate approach that considers how popular sentiment towards the US may be influenced by the US decision to formally recognize Moroccan claims over the Sahara region. As such, the US should seek partnerships with regionally based multilateral institutions and initiatives that have the trust of the Algerian people and government rather than through direct intervention or engagement.

Based on this fact, Washington prioritizes, in the military and the Geopolitical levels, its partnership with Morocco, in terms of the major opportunities that can provide as a political and economic hub in Africa. The first consideration is the safe security environment, as Morocco plays a determinant role in promoting the fight against terrorism in the region. Secondly, the Moroccos rapprochement with the main African countries in the strategic, military and economic levels. The Morocco’s return to the African Union has showcased the Moroccan skills and potentialities to guarantee the stability in the African region. The Third element is related to the structure of the international and regional systems change, as Morocco expresses its engagement with stable and strategic alliances with Western superpowers: the United States of America and Western countries and Israel, as well as the Arab and African countries. While Algeria continues its coalition with Russia and Iran, whereas,   remains its support of extremist terrorist groups, particularly the separatist militia of Polisario.

In the global arena, as the U.S. sought to counterbalance a decided turn toward unilateralism and assertion of hard power, Africa became an important theater in which to showcase American “soft power” and openness to multilateral cooperation. The continuity of the African Lion hosted by Morocco since 2004 showcase the American trust on Morocco as a solid strategic partner in the African continent.

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  • Hassan Elfanni
    July 16, 2023 5:51 am

    موفق دئما دكتور واتمنى لك التوفيق والسداد إن شاء الله

  • Hassan Elfanni
    July 16, 2023 5:52 am

    موفق دئما دكتور واتمنى لك التوفيق والسداد

  • Issam Laaroussi
    July 16, 2023 6:09 am

    Thanks dear friend Hassan for your comment and support

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