The President of the Moroccan Government, Saadedín Otmani, has confirmed that a part of the military maneuvers between his country and the United States, known as “African Lion 21” and one of the most important on the African continent, will be carried out “for the first time in the Western Sahara “as of June 7.
Otmani has indicated in a tweet that a part of these exercises will take place in the town of Mahbes, in the extreme northeast of Western Sahara, very close to the border with Algeria, and also in the Saharawi city of Dakhla.
It is for Otmani “the culmination of the American recognition of the Moroccanness of the Sahara,” as noted on his Twitter account.
#Morocco, West, sunset : The “African Lion 2021” maneuvers, part of which will take place for the first time in the Moroccan Sahara, began in the Mahbas region and near Dakhla, with the participation of about 10,000 Moroccan and American soldiers and others from 8 countries and observers from 21 countries, which is the culmination of the American recognition of the Moroccan Sahara. pic.twitter.com/mHIDFVmST6
— Saad dine El Othmani EL OTMANI Saad dine (@Elotmanisaad) May 29, 2021
Otmani’s announcement is important because it represents the first gesture of the new US administration that confirms the declaration of the previous president, Donald Trump (2017-2021), to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara, after months of silence in this regard.
When consulted the United States embassy in Rabat, a spokesperson limited himself to specifying that the organizers of African Lion 2021 “they ultimately decided to use the sites proposed at the beginning of planning”, alluding to the plan proposed by the Royal Armed Forces, which from the beginning proposed that the territory of the Sahara be included on this occasion.
Otmani did not give details about the type of activities that will be organized in the area near Dakhla or in Mahbés, a town that is adjacent to the Moroccan defense wall and just 80 kilometers from the Tindouf camps, in Algerian territory and controlled by the Polisario Front. All this after Last November, the Polisario declared the 1991 ceasefire broken and declared war on Rabat.
Spain will not participate
US organizers previously announced that the African Lion maneuvers would be staged between June 7-18 between Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia. with the participation of nearly 4,000 United States soldiers, in addition to nearly 5,000 troops from the Moroccan Army, and other soldiers from Tunisia, Senegal, Italy, the United Kingdom, among others, along with observers from twelve countries.
On the other hand, Spain will not participate in the current edition of the African Lion as it includes areas of Western Sahara, which would mean a legitimation of Moroccan sovereignty over the former Spanish colony, according to the advance The country.
This information was widely collected by the Moroccan media and debated in forums on social networks, but has not received a response from the Spanish or Moroccan government.
The Far-Maroc forum, a Facebook page considered close to military authorities, considered that Spain’s non-participation in these maneuvers “indicates Spain’s desire to expand the circle of crisis and attack the supreme interests of Morocco in the Sahara. “
He described Spain’s attitude as “reckless actions that are going to create a dilemma whose price will be paid by ordinary Spanish citizens, as happened during the Perejil crisis (in 2002).”