U.S. denies military exercises in Morocco extend to Western Sahara

The U.S. military denied a tweet by the Moroccan Prime Minister on Tuesday that a U.S.-led military exercise in Africa would take place in a conflict area in Western Sahara this month.

Last week, Prime Minister Saadedin El Osmani said on Twitter that the training “shows the dedication of American approval to Morocco’s Sahara.”

Currently, his tweets have been deleted. The United States Africa Command (Africom), which leads the exercise with 7,000 participants from nine countries, said in a statement that the exercise would be limited to Moroccan territory.

“Exercise locations extend primarily throughout Morocco, from Kenitra Air Base in the north to training facilities in Tantan and Gerillaboh in the south,” the statement said.

Africom said planners in the United States and Morocco have decided to “use the site proposed at the beginning of the 2020 summer planning cycle.”

After Rabat normalized relations with Israel last year, Trump acknowledged Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara and evoked an angry reaction from the Separatist Polisario Front, denying Morocco’s claim to territory.

Morocco claimed a former Spanish colony with abundant phosphate resources and offshore fisheries after Spain’s withdrawal in 1975.

“Completely false rumors”
The Polisario Front took weapons to demand independence, proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in 1976, and fought a 16-year war with Morocco.

Morocco currently controls 80% of its territory, with the rest operated by the Polisario Front.

Rabat proposed the autonomy of Western Sahara, but claims that this territory is the sovereign part of the kingdom.

Osmani said in a tweet that the exercises will take place in two locations in Western Sahara: the eastern Mahibeth region, where the Polisario Front has regularly claimed conflict, and Rabat plans to develop an Atlantic port. Dakhla is.

Foreign Minister Saharawi’s Mohammed Salem Old Sarek dismissed the original tweet as “a completely false rumor.”

“There is no joint task force in Western Sahara as part of the’African Lion 2021’with US troops,” Salek told AFP.

“They take place in the southern part of Moroccan territory, within the internationally recognized Moroccan border.”

It is understood that Spain has not participated in the exercises.

Madrid angered Rabat after Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali was treated in a Spanish hospital for Covid-19 in April.

Last month, Spain was surprised when as many as 10,000 people rushed to Ceuta, a small excursion in North Africa, and the Moroccan border guards turned against it. U.S. denies military exercises in Morocco extend to Western Sahara

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