The Pentagon is looking at alternative locations to stage its largest exercise in Africa after lawmakers in Washington said Morocco should be removed as the host nation because of its disputed control over the Western Sahara.
At a hearing last week to consider the appointment of Marine Corp Lt. Gen. Michael E. Langley to the top position at U.S. Africa Command, Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, accused the Moroccan government of committing “vicious attacks” on the Sahrawi people in the region.
“Morocco has done nothing to repair the damage that they’ve done to the Sahrawi people after all these years, and they’ve done nothing to show they’re serious about resolving the crisis,” said Mr. Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
He accused Rabat of misleading U.S. administrations for decades about its willingness to enter into negotiations with the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, a Sahrawi independence movement.
“I have pushed [the Department of Defense] to look at the alternative locations for the annual African Lion military exercise that’s been hosted in Morocco previously,” Mr. Inhofe said.
African Lion 2022 was staged last month. Thousands of military personnel from several countries took part in the combined-arms exercise that included live fire drills, air combat maneuvers and naval operations.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin agreed to consider other countries to take over the hosting duties for future African Lion exercises, Mr. Inhofe said.