Spy satellite to boost Morocco’s security capability

The North African kingdom will become the third country in Africa, after Egypt and South Africa, to have its own spy satellite.

Security needs. A transfer of the components of the European launcher Vol Vega 11, on September 27. (ESA)


2017/11/05 Issue: 130 Page: 9


The Arab Weekly
Saad Guerraoui



Casablanca- Morocco’s expected launch of a reconnais­sance satellite may be worrying some of its neighbours but one expert said it was part of Rabat’s de­fence strategy to boost its surveil­lance capability against smuggling, illegal immigration and to tighten control of its borders.

“I see this as a defensive move by Morocco to strengthen its security by increasing its capacity to obtain intelligence about what is going on across its borders,” said James Farwell, an expert in communica­tion strategy and cyber-warfare and a non-resident senior fel­low at the Middle East Institute in Washington.

“The idea that Morocco and Spain are somehow going to wind up in an armed conflict is extremely unlikely. Tensions rather rise on il­legal immigration and smuggling,” Farwell said.

“Morocco has had a long con­cern about two main things: One is smuggling and the other one is the constant threat posed by terrorist groups like al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Islamic State (ISIS).”

Morocco planned to launch its first French-built spy satellite from Kourou in French Guiana. A sec­ond satellite is to be launched in 2018. The French daily newspaper La Tribune reported that France sold Morocco the two satellites for nearly $600 million in a deal signed in April 2013 during former French President François Hollande’s visit to Morocco.

The North African kingdom will become the third country in Africa, after Egypt and South Africa, to have its own spy satellite. The two satellites can take up to 500 very high definition photographs a day and send them to a station near Rabat-Sale airport every six hours.

Morocco was a victim of terror attacks in Casablanca in 2003 and Marrakech in 2011 that killed a total of 50 people and injured dozens. Moroccan authorities have said they have dismantled 53 terrorist cells linked with ISIS since 2014.

Spain and Algeria expressed con­cerns that the satellites would give Morocco a military edge over them.

“Morocco is a friendly country, with which we maintain a very in­tense and fruitful cooperation, es­sential to stop clandestine immigra­tion or prevent terrorist attacks but it is not pleasant that nobody, not even the friendliest, goes around snooping around the kitchen,” a Spanish military strategist told El Pais newspaper.

Algerian media reported that Mo­rocco would be able to obtain in­formation on military installations and troop movements of Algeria and the Polisario Front, an inde­pendence movement in Western Sahara backed by Algeria.

Rabat and Algiers have been at loggerheads for decades over West­ern Sahara, a territory disputed be­tween Morocco and the Polisario Front. They have had frequent dip­lomatic rows and their land border has been closed since 1994.

“Morocco has differences with Algeria, which is supporting the Polisario Front,” Farwell said. “Mo­rocco’s move is a defensive meas­ure to deal with Western Sahara and Algeria but not an offensive measure.”


Saad Guerraoui is a regular contributor to The Arab Weekly on Maghreb issues.


As Printed
MENA Now
Editors' Picks

The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

Managing Editor: Iman Zayat

Deputy Managing Editor and Online Editor: Mamoon Alabbasi

Senior Editor: John Hendel

Chief Copy Editor: Richard Pretorius

Copy Editor: Stephen Quillen

Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

Syria and Lebanon Sections Editor: Simon Speakman Cordall

Contributing Editor: Rashmee Roshan Lall

Senior Correspondents: Mahmud el-Shafey (London) & Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

Regular Columnists

Claude Salhani

Yavuz Baydar

Correspondents

Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

Dunia El-Zobaidi (London)

Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

Thomas Seibert (Washington)

Chief Designer: Marwen Hmedi

Designers

Ibrahim Ben Bechir

Hanen Jebali

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Contact editor at:editor@thearabweekly.com

Subscription & Advertising: Ads@alarab.co.uk

Tel 020 3667 7249

Mohamed Al Mufti

Marketing & Advertising Manager

Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

Direct: +44 20 8742 9262

www.alarab.co.uk

Al Arab Publishing House

Kensington Centre

177-179 Hammersmith Road

London W6 8BS , UK

Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

Follow Us
© The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved