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U.S., Morocco Strengthen Security Ties

FILE: In this Saturday March 7, 2015 photo, African troops participate in exercises with the U.S. military's "US Africa Command" and its Western partners.

The head of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Gen. Michael Langley, Thursday concluded a two-day visit to Morocco where he said his trip focused on how Washington and Rabat can strengthen security ties while retaining regional stability.

VOA’s Mohammed Elshinnawi spoke to David Des Rouches, an associate professor at the Near East Asia Center for Security Studies about the importance of the U.S. - Moroccan military contact.

The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

VOA: Describe the significance of Gen. Michael Langley’s trip to Morocco?

Rouches: Very important. Historically, because Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States during our revolution.

The long history of cooperation between the U.S. and Morocco in the defense and political sphere will help Africa because the north African nation is a security provider in a region that is increasingly unstable.

Morocco also provides a model for modernization on the African continent that others would benefit from.

VOA: How does the U.S. - Moroccan interchange impact the tension between Algeria and Morocco?

Rouches: That is the downside because Algeria uses any cooperation with Morocco as a “zero-sum game” that detracts from its own security. This is unfortunate because the United States wants to be security partners with both countries.

The security cooperation between the U.S. and Algeria is not as well developed, which I think is a hangover from the Algerian revolution.

Adding to that is Algeria's ties to the Soviet Union and Russia, the largest provider of arms to Algeria, which I do not think serves Algerian interests.

VOA: Two years ago, Morocco and the U.S. signed a 10-year MOU {Memorandum of Understanding] for defense cooperation. Talk about about that cooperation.

Rouches: This agreement builds on decades long robust cooperation between the two nations, which has included a lot of military training between the two nations.

The ties between the U.S. and Morocco have led to the Moroccan military being regarded as one of the most professional in Africa, which is why it's now an exporter of security.

Experts Speak on Relevance of U.S., Morocco Security Relations
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