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The Pentagon showers Morocco with weapons through its Excess Defense Articles program

Through the Pentagon’s Excess Defense Articles, Morocco receives weapons the US is no more using. The trend grew wider recently, making of Morocco the largest US weapons buyer in Africa.

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The Pentagon is sending Morocco surplus military equipments to meet regional challenges, according to Al-Monitor. Reviewing US government documents the online newspaper reports that these operations are conducted through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA), a program that transfers excess defense equipment to foreign governments or international organizations for a reduced cost.

In this regard, Morocco’s latest weapon delivery was concluded in September, sending the North African Kingdom 162 Abrams tanks. This operation was part of a deal conducted by the EDA with the objective of granting Morocco more than «$115 million in US equipment the Pentagon no longer needs», explains the same source.

An increased demand and supply

However, weapon deliveries sent to Rabat have increased in last few years, said Al-Monitor, indicating that the Pentagon is even considering other programs to accelerate the process. This trend has been confirmed by Seth Binder, an analyst who spoke to the same source pointing out that Morocco «gets $15 million a year in [regular] military aid from the US, so $100 million for one project is pretty massive».

«People complain that the arms sales process is too slow. I’ve been wondering if they use EDA if that process would speed up.»

Moreover, Morocco’s purchases account for more than a quarter of the $430 million the EDA program has approved during the first year of Trump administration to the Middle East, according to Department of Defense records Al-Monitor took a look at. And for the record, Rabat was sent by the Pentagon «tracked command post vehicles, grenade launchers and howitzers as well as 419 armored personnel carriers».

According to the same article, Morocco is the largest US weapons buyer in Africa which «has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to operate and maintain advanced US equipment,» as highlighted by the Africa Command commander, Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, in a statement to Congress last month. 

Weapons to deal with regional challenges

As explained in the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s website, the EDA was implemented by the US government since 1961 to primarily «support U. S. allies in their modernization efforts and to assist Latin American and Caribbean nations in their counter-narcotics programs».

For Morocco, the objective is to help the country fight against terrorism and other regional challenges. In January, the Trump administration granted the Pentagon $600 million to aid allies in the Middle East and North Africa, including Morocco, in their battle against the remnants of ISIS.

The Defense Department said that it would deliver weapons and help Special Forces units better equip countries, according to congressional documents consulted by Al-Monitor media. The aim is to fight the internal and external threats of returning jihadists or sympathizers of the terrorist organization.

The US Department will help countries like Morocco and Tunisia, threatened by jihadists crossing North Africa via instability-ridden Libya. The money could help these countries face the border problems that allow jihadists to enter relatively easily.

While Morocco has not been targeted by terrorist attacks similar to those of Tunisia it has served as a launch pad for attacks in Europe, including the attacks in Barcelona.

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