WorldTribune.com (London, England, Oct. 29, 2012) — Algeria and Morocco have joined in a major Western naval exercise.
Algeria and Morocco participated in Seaborder-2012 in the Mediterranean Sea in September 2012. Officials said the two North African neighbors and longtime rivals cooperated in a series of maritime security drills meant to enhance regional efforts against insurgency, smuggling and illegal migration.
Seaborder-2012 marked the first time that Algeria organized part of the Western exercise, part of the so-called 5+5 defense initiative between the European Union and North Africa. The Algerian Navy contributed a missile patrol boat that worked with a Royal Moroccan Navy frigate during the drills on Sept. 25-27.
Algeria had long refused to participate in bilateral or regional exercises with Morocco amid their dispute over Western Sahara. Officials said the regime of President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika has softened its stand over the last year amid concerns over the spread of Al Qaida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb.
The exercise, which contained simulated and live phases, began with participants from Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Tunisia and Spain conducting mock missions from Algeria’s maritime monitoring operations center.
On Sept. 27, the five North African and EU states moved to the Gulf of Cadiz, where Spain hosted the live phase of Seaborder. Officials said this phase included the interception and boarding of a suspicious vessel.
Seaborder, held every year since 2008, did not include the participation of Libya, which sent a delegation of observers. In 2011, Morocco was an organizer of the exercise.