African Lion 2013 Cancelled



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African Lion exercise:

African Lion is a annually scheduled, bilateral US and Moroccan exercise to improve interoperability,
it started in 2008, and this month the 6th edition ( AL13 ) was supposed to take place.
For USAFRICOM ( US AFRIcan COMmand) the strategic goal for this exercise were:
  • Enhance Morocco’s effectiveness in fighting terrorism
  • Promote the Moroccan military’s adherence to the principle of civilian control and its ability to conduct operations respecting recognized international human rights and military standards
  • Advance the Moroccan military’s capacity for national self-defense
 Last year, during African Lion 2012, a MV-22 from USS Iwo-Jima crashed south west of Agadir, leaving two dead and two injured.

Western Sahara situation and cancelation of AF13

Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, was annexed by Morocco in 1976, sparking a decades-long battle for independence by the POLISARIO Front, which ended with a UN-brokered  cease-fire in 1991.
Morocco built a 2700 km long berm from 1980 to 1987 across Western Sahara.
During the conflict 191 000 sahrawi fled to neigbouring Algeria and Mauritania
( Western Sahara population is about 500 000 )
The MINURSO ( United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara ) 
has been mandated to:
  • Monitor the ceasefire;
  • Verify the reduction of Moroccan troops in the Territory;
  • Monitor the confinement of Moroccan and frente POLISARIO troops to designated locations
  • Take steps with the parties to ensure the release of all Western Saharan political prisoners or detainees;
  • Oversee the exchange of prisoners of war;
  • Implement the repatriation programme;
  • Identify and register qualified voters;
  • Organize and ensure a free and fair referendum and proclaim the results.
 AL13 was cancelled by Morocco after the US proposed to enhance the role of MINURSO to human rights monitoring during talks to renew the MINURSO mandate.
Marines from Task Force African Lion have to pack up and redeploy out of Morocco. The USNS Dahl has already delivered more than 250 tons of equipment since its arrival in Agadir on April 6th.

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