ALGIERS, 9 March 2021 – A major arms race is unfolding between Morocco and Algeria ever since former U.S. President Donald Trump said Morocco had sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Respectively ranked second and fifth largest African armies, Algeria and Morocco have embarked on spending massive amounts to acquire the latest military equipment, The Africa Report wrote, Tuesday.
Morocco and Algeria are at loggerheads over the occupied Western Sahara, with Algeria openly supporting the Polisario Front, which demands full independence for Western Sahara (a former Spanish colony), and recognition as the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.
Morocco insists, it is a violation of international law and cites United Nations-backed resolutions, that Western Sahara is a part of Moroccan territory.
According to the report, officials in Rabat are showing a preference for American and French weapons, while their counterparts in Algiers are focused on buying up Russian-made arms.
Last January, Morocco acquired the US-made Patriot air defense system, a medium-range surface-to-air missile system designed to neutralize air threats, The Africa Report wrote.
The Algerian military is equipped with the Russian S-300 missile system.
Morocco, which expects to receive seven radars from the US Lockheed Martin Corporation, has also bought two Ground Master 400 radars from the French manufacturer Thales Group.
The latter are in addition to three similar systems the kingdom already owns.
The Africa Report points out that the Algerian army has also purchased Russian fighters, notably the Sukhoi fighter jets with strong maneuvering capabilities, while Morocco has bought US-made F-16 aircraft.
Recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara emboldened Rabat in its determination to maintain control of the territory.
Currently, Morocco occupies and controls about 80 percent of Western Sahara, and offers to grant it autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.
The proposal has been rejected by the Polisario Front and by its supporters, notably Algeria and Mauritania.
A 1991 agreement signed under the auspices of the United Nations provided for the Saharawi people to determine their fate in a referendum of self-determination which has not yet held to date.