The Pentagon denied today, Monday, for the second time in a row, Rabat’s allegations about conducting “African Lion 21” military maneuvers in part of the occupied Sahrawi territories, stressing that the scope of the maneuvers would not include the Mahbes region in the occupied Western Sahara.
In a second press release, the US military denied that the occupied Mahbes region (Western Sahara) was included in the military maneuvers “African Lion 21”, contrary to what was carried by a Moroccan army’s statement two days ago.
The Moroccan army had confirmed in a statement, Saturday, that the joint Moroccan-American drills “African Lion 2021” will take place during the period from 7 to 18 of the current month in the regions of Agadir, Tifnit, Tan-Tan, Mahbes, Tafraout, Ben Guerir and Quneitra. The Pentagon statement refuted these allegations by emphasizing that the activities of the African Lion drills will take place throughout Morocco, from the Quneitra air base in the north to Tan Tan and the Ben Guerir training complex in the south.
Meanwhile, the commander of US Africa Command, Gen. Stephen Townsend said that “The African Lion is an excellent example of the United States’ long-term commitment to Africa and its recognition of Africa’s strategic importance to the United States,”.
According to the US official, the exercise will include multiple areas and use the full range of mission capabilities with the aim of enhancing interoperability between partner countries and building capacity in terms of operations in the African operation scene as well as preparedness, expertise and capabilities.
Townsend concluded by saying that “the US Army’s Southern European Task Force will be fully responsible for the African Lion exercise,”
It’s worth noting that the US Department of Defense (Pentagon), denied last Tuesday, what was stated in the tweet of Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani , which he published last weekend on Twitter, that part of the annual training of the US military command in Africa (AFRICOM) will take place in occupied Sahrawi territories, considering it a “culmination” of former US President Donald Trump’s recognition of his country’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara.
In a statement to the Spanish news agency EFE, an AFRICOM spokesperson confirmed that the maneuvers will be held in Morocco, specifying the locations for these maneuvers, from the Quneitra air base to the training sites in Tan-Tan and the Gherir Al-Bouhi region in Assa Zag.
The Spanish agency, EFE, said that the official spokesperson for AFRICOM confirmed that the maneuvers will take place in desert areas in Morocco, but not in the occupied areas of Western Sahara.
Last year, the “African Lion” maneuvers were limited to only a few drills, and all major drills were canceled, due to the repercussions of the novel Corona virus at the global level.