A strategic study by the University of Granada, Spain, shows that the Moroccan armed forces achieved a “qualitative leap in armaments, but it does not pose a threat to Spain in the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, but focuses on countering the bilateral threat that is posed by Algeria and the Polisario Front”.
The study that was published late last month on the “Group of Studies on International Security”, entitled “Modernizing the Moroccan Ground Forces: Overlapping data for a strategic vision”, highlights its reliance on various reports, including intelligence, open sources and satellite images of the Moroccan military position and movements.
Spanish state encourages this type of study against the absolute absence of such studies in Moroccan universities, whether about the Moroccan armed forces or the armies of neighboring countries.
This is the third report of its kind on the Moroccan armed forces of the same group after two reports were issued, the first on air force and the second on the navy.
It notes Morocco’s involvement in the modernization of its ground weapons by purchasing US tanks and developing other arms that were at its disposal and then medium-range rocket launchers from China with a range of up to 400 kilometers, reinforcing the firepower of the Moroccan army to respond to the challenges.
This comes in line with the modernization of ground forces with the air forces and navy.
It highlights Algeria’s involvement in one or more similar operations to modernize its ground weapons in the context of an arms race in the region which leads to raising the challenges.
The study provides a location of the Moroccan ground forces in the national map group, as it refers to the military divisions, the corps, the type of weapons, and even the names of these groups. Based on the distribution of forces, the study ends with the strategy of the Moroccan army which is divided into two parts: In the 1st Part: Presence of the forces in the North East, the south-east to the desert, and this shows that the great concern of the Moroccan armed forces about the threat that Algeria and the Polisario pose, especially that the Western Sahara conflict is still burning.
In the 2nd Part: The study monitors the absence of ground forces near the occupied cities of Ceuta and Melilla, as Morocco is demanding to regain them back.
According to the study, the largest number of tanks is located near one of the two cities, at a distance of 1000 kilometers from Melilla in the north-east of Morocco.
It excludes linking this situation to pressurizing Melilla, but because it is close to Algeria’s borders and targets Algeria, which is a focal point of Morocco’s defense agenda at the present time.
It ends the report with the absence of military pressure on Ceuta and Melilla. However, the study concludes by calling on the international community to consider Morocco’s modernization of its ground forces in order to ease their movement from one region to another, hinting at the hypothesis of easing the moving troops to a military blockade of Melilla if the situation worsens.
On several occasions, Morocco asserted its preference for a political dialogue to restore sovereignty over Ceuta and Melilla instead of war. However, there is a lack of confidence between the two sides, as Spain is trying to strengthen its military presence in southern regions in anticipation of the surprises, especially after the conflict over Tora Island in the summer of 2002.