Iran’s support for Algeria and Polisario threatens not only Morocco, but also the stability of the broader region, writes The Defense Post, an independent security and defense news publication

In an Op-Ed published this Tuesday on the threats posed by the Iranian drones in Africa, Lonzo Cook, a former CNN journalist, says the efforts to destabilize Morocco can be explained by Iran’s antagonism to Israel. Morocco-Israel relations have been gaining momentum in all sectors following the signing of the 2020 Abraham Accords brokered by Washington.

Tehran is expanding its influence in Africa, replicating its Middle East playbook by arming rebel Shiite groups, warns Mr. Cook. For decades Iran has engaged in confrontations with regional rivals across the Middle East, extending its influence through supporting foreign guerrilla groups with military hardware and training.

Over the last several years, Iran has been expanding and deepening its influence into a new area: Africa, most notably the Sahel and Maghreb. In this way, Iran is gaining a foothold in a strategic and resource-rich area adjacent to vital Western shipping lanes in the Atlantic Ocean.

Iranian subversion could have the greatest geopolitical consequences in the Sahara region of northwest Africa, says the publication. With its mounting support for state and non-state opponents of Morocco, Iran seeks to undermine a staunch Western ally that serves as a bedrock of stability in a troubled neighborhood.

Morocco is seriously concerned about the supply of Iranian attack drones to the Polisario militia, supported by Algeria, says the Defense Post, citing in this regard the remarks of Morocco’s permanent representative to the UN Omar Hilale, who has repeatedly denounced the drone transfers via Algeria and warned that Morocco will react in an “appropriate manner.”

However, Iranian subversion reaches deeper inside Morocco through its persistent campaign to radicalize and recruit members of the Kingdom’s Shiite minority.

Iran has long-established economic and military ties with Algeria, and Tehran has acknowledged its sale of military drones to Algiers. Furthermore, Polisario’s former interior minister Omar Mansour boasted last year that the separatist group received Iranian drones, threatening to use them against Moroccan security forces.

Senior Moroccan officials have detailed how Iran has been using its Lebanese proxy militia Hezbollah to provide military training and support to Polisario guerrillas based at the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria. This support goes back to 2017 and has long irritated Rabat.

In May 2018, Morocco severed diplomatic ties with Iran for the third time over its support for the Polisario and after Tehran deployed units of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to Algeria to provide training to Polisario fighters.

The Defense Post describes Morocco as strategic bulwark in North Africa against extremism, a moderate Islamic country with a fast-growing economy and deepening economic relationships with its fellow African countries.

All these factors make Morocco, a reliable strategic partner for the U.S. and its Western and African allies, to stand “shoulder to shoulder” against Iran’s destabilizing scheme in Africa and the Maghreb.

Source: The North Africa Post

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