Desert Shield 2022.. Algerian-Russian maneuvers near the Moroccan border, and controversy over their motives

The joint Russian-Algerian military maneuvers “Desert Shield 2022” began on the Moroccan border, sparking talk about “the goal of these exercises and the secret of timing”, in light of the tension between Algeria and Morocco on the one hand, and the differences between Moscow and Western countries due to the war in Ukraine on the other.

The joint military exercises began on November 16 and will continue until the 28th of the same month, at the “Hamaqir” base in Algeria, with the participation of 80 Russian soldiers and the same number from the Algerian army.

The exercises aim to “combat terrorism in the desert, train to detect and destroy armed groups, and strengthen cooperation between the Russian and Algerian armies.”

message to whom?

“Hamaqir” was identified in the state of Bashar as a theater for military maneuvers, as it carries a symbolic significance dating back to the “colonial era,” according to the newspaper.Sunrise” The algerian.

The joint maneuvers near the Moroccan border fall within the context of tensions with Rabat and the war in Ukraine, according to a newspaper report.ladepeche” French.

On August 24, 2021, Algeria announced the severance of its diplomatic relations with Morocco, accusing Rabat of “committing hostile acts” since Algeria’s independence in 1962, which Morocco denied.

The Hamakir region is adjacent to the eastern borders of Morocco, and the exercises will be held only 50 kilometers from the Moroccan-Algerian border, according to the “Hamaqir” website.lodeskMoroccan.

Algeria is strengthening its “military air force” presence near the border with Morocco, with a special focus on Tindouf airport, according to the Moroccan website.

However, the Moroccan political researcher, Abd al-Salam al-Masati, rules out that the maneuvers are “directed to Morocco,” and says that they came in connection with previous exercises by virtue of the rapprochement between Russia and Algeria.

In his interview with Al-Hurra website, he believes that Moscow may aim to send a “message to Europe and the West” through joint military exercises, despite the fact that the region in which the exercises are taking place may be “relatively far.”

Russia has always been trying to send “messages to Europe” during the recent period, according to Al-Masati’s statement.

However, the Algerian political analyst, Toufik Boukaida, denies this, stressing that “the maneuvers do not carry any messages, whether to Morocco or Europe.”

In his interview with Al-Hurra, he indicated that these exercises are periodic and previously announced, and mainly aim to “fight terrorism and train on Russian weapons that Algeria recently purchased.”

The maneuvers do not aim to “disturb the West or Europe,” but to protect “internal security and Algerian borders,” according to his statement.

Algeria imports a large number of Russian military equipment, thanks to an increase in its defense budget by 130 percent in 2021, according to the “Algeria” website.France Info“.

There is a possibility that Algeria will buy fifth-generation fighters of the Russian “Sukhoi” model, and if this contract is confirmed, it will be “a great financial gain for Moscow in the midst of the war in Ukraine,” according to “France Info”.

Algeria had acquired 100 BMP-3s, in addition to upgrading the BMP-1 and BMP-2 to newer standards, specifically to equip them with Kornet anti-tank missile systems.

However, according to Boukaida’s statement, “Algeria stands on the side of neutrality in the conflict between the West and Russia, as it announced since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.”

why now?

“Armies around the world are training periodically to enhance their capabilities and readiness and protect their borders,” Bukadah says.

He talks about “combating terrorism in the desert regions in light of the turmoil experienced by the African Sahel countries and Libya, which requires the Algerian army to be fully prepared and highly prepared.”

However, Al-Masati stresses that protecting borders and solving international problems is the responsibility of the United Nations, and not the responsibility of countries that conduct military exercises and maneuvers.

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