Are joint exercises between Algeria and Russia targeting Morocco?

Operation “Desert Shield” between Algeria and Russia has been confirmed by Moscow. These will be joint military exercises which will take place in November a few kilometers from the Moroccan border.

In a new manifestation of hostility towards Morocco, the eastern neighbor has agreed with its main arms supplier to carry out military exercises with 80 Russian soldiers, in the region of the 3rd Algerian military region, not far from the Moroccan border.

This choice of place to carry out these joint exercises is not innocent, since it is the military region where the current army corps general, Said Chengriha, served for many years. The latter was in charge of preparing the troops for possible attacks against the Kingdom.

The idea of ​​bringing Russian soldiers on site to carry out joint exercises, just 50 kilometers from the Moroccan border, is a new form that materializes the bellicose initiatives of Algeria vis-à-vis Morocco.

It comes after the end of joint exercises between the United States and Morocco as part of the African Lion, which also has the participation of several Washington allies in Africa and elsewhere.

The theme of the Russian-Algerian exercise is tactical actions to search, detect and neutralize illegal armed groups. According to the program, maneuvers are also planned with the armies of Pakistan, Egypt and Kazakhstan.

According to the statement, the exercises will involve elements of the “motostrelki” brigades, the Russian Caucasian mechanized infantry. Motostrelki is an important part of the Russian Armed Forces using BMP vehicles, which Algeria also purchased. The country is said to have recently acquired around a hundred BMP-3s, the latest model, and to have modernized its BMP-1s and BMP-2s.

The decision to announce the confirmation of these exercises coincides with Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s African tour, while the initial announcement was made by the Russian Ministry of Defense shortly after the start of the war in Ukraine and shortly after Blinken’s visit to Morocco and then to Algeria.

“The timing of this announcement suggests an intention on the part of the Algerian and Russian governments to challenge the United States and its allies in the region”indicates the Spanish media Atalayar.

This rapprochement between Algeria and Russia comes in a geopolitical context where Algeria is increasingly isolated on the international scene. The country has the ambition to position itself on the world stage by getting closer to a power like Russia, by reviving the idea of ​​the two Western and Soviet blocks of the Cold War period, and in which Morocco would be Washington’s ally and Algeria that of Moscow.

Except that in fact, Russia remains distant and does not interfere in the conflict between Algeria and Morocco, adopting a cautious approach and looking after its interests with Rabat. And for Algeria, it adopts a half-fig half-grape position, suggesting that there is an alliance with Algeria, but only imposing itself mainly in terms of arms supplier and that it is within this framework that the joint exercises will be organised.

“Algeria is a particularly opaque actor when it comes to its armed forces, but its military collaboration with Moscow is notorious. The Russian arms industry has always been the main supplier to Algiers, which only occasionally seeks other suppliers, with France regularly fulfilling this role.adds the Iberian media.

Contacts with Russia and Algeria have been strengthened in recent months, especially at the initiative of Algiers, which quickly organized a visit by its head of diplomacy, Ramtane Lamamra, the day after a visit by the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his meeting with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

In addition, Algeria is counting on the support of Russia to support its candidacy to join the BRICS group, an economic and political group made up of Russia, China, India, Brazil and Africa. from South.

Moscow and Algiers recently renewed their strategic partnership in several areas, including a desired strengthening of their cooperation in the energy field, being both hydrocarbon producing countries.

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