NATO Affirms Importance of Partnership with Morocco in Face of Greatest Challenge

Morocco stands out among NATO allies for its achievements in combating extremism, terrorism, and illegal immigration, as well as for the crucial intelligence it provides to Western partners

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized continuing consultations against terrorism with the organization’s allies, among which Morocco is a strategic partner in confronting the challenges threatening the southern Mediterranean. Morocco maintains exceptional relations with NATO and fruitful cooperation covering various areas, whether within the framework of the Mediterranean Dialogue or bilateral cooperation.

Stoltenberg’s annual report reveals that “additional consultations took place in 2023 with NATO partners, including the Kingdom of Morocco, Australia, Korea, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, and Colombia, mainly focused on counterterrorism”.

Morocco stands out among these countries for enhancing regional security and stability, particularly in combating illegal immigration and transborder organized crime, as well as for providing crucial intelligence to Western partners in the fight against extremism and terrorism, preparing it to play a distinctive and central role in the multi-party dialogue in the Mediterranean.

The 2023 report emphasizes that terrorism remains the greatest challenge for NATO and for international community stability, confirming that “2023 saw NATO continue to enhance its international role in counterterrorism”.

The Moroccan armed forces participated in the “Guardian of the Sea” operation, exercises in the western Mediterranean Sea and near the Strait of Gibraltar organized by NATO with the participation of 8 members, as part of strengthening military capabilities against urgent threats in the region.

Morocco participated in field exercises with the armies of Britain, Spain, and Portugal, through the frigate “Sultan Moulay Ismail” of the Royal Navy.

The report also mentions that the Moroccan army participated in the “STEADFAST JACKAL 23” exercise, related to computer-assisted command centers, between November 28 and December 7, 2023, in Spain and Norway.

In 2023, NATO continued to provide support for military education for 15 partner countries, notably Morocco, by enhancing defense education, helping partners to build, develop, and reform their professional military education institutions, through the development of unified and documented military education standards.

The report indicates that “the impact of the Russo-Ukrainian war has already led to increased demand for this military educational support from partner countries, often aimed at developing non-commissioned officer cadres and providing them with professional military education”. It considers that “NATO’s partnership is strong in North Africa, particularly in the Mediterranean Dialogue”, where Rabat plays an active role.

NATO emphasizes the importance of Morocco as a reliable partner that has significantly contributed to security missions in the region and combating maritime terrorism and illegal immigration, one of the main security challenges facing the other shore.

The Kingdom of Morocco obtained the status of a major non-NATO ally from mid-2004, becoming the second Arab and African country after Egypt to achieve this status, accumulating significant experience over the past two decades in dealing with phenomena threatening its security as well as that of its regional and international partners.

The U.S. National Security Council had stated at the time that “the decision was made considering the close ties between Morocco and the United States, and that Washington considers King Mohammed VI a visionary leader in the Arab world”.

The U.S. Department of State’s electronic magazine “State Magazine”, in its latest issue for March, highlights Morocco’s strengthening of its position as a space for peace and stability in a region facing numerous challenges.

It emphasizes that the Kingdom, as a major ally of the United States outside NATO, plays a “central role” in regional efforts in security and counterterrorism.

The magazine, which dedicated its “Article of the Month” to the Moroccan-American strategic partnership, discussed the annual “African Lion” military exercises held between the two countries, which constitute the “largest multinational military training exercise in Africa”.

Morocco will host the “African Lion 2024” exercises from May 20 to 31, 2024, which represent the largest multinational exercise on the African continent in the regions of Agadir, Tan Tan, Al Mahbes, Tata, Laayoune, Ben Guerir, and Tifnit.

The “African Lion 2024” exercises aim to contribute to strengthening Moroccan-American military cooperation and enhancing exchanges between the armed forces of the different participating countries to enhance security and stability in the region.

David Fischer, political adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, stated, “You will not find in Africa any country considered as a stable and reliable ally like Morocco”, recalling that Morocco enjoys a “special position” in the history of U.S. international relations, being the first country in the world to recognize the independence of the United States in 1777.

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