Moroccan authorities ordered the repatriation of the six F16 fighters stationed in Saudi Arabia as part of the Arab anti-Houthis coalition in Yemen. According to the Moroccan website Desk that revealed the information, it would not be a change of alliance with Ryad but rather a provision related to the rise of tension with the Polisario Front in Western Sahara.
Without drums or trumpets, King Mohamed VI repatriated from Saudi Arabia the six F16 fighters engaged in the Arab coalition set up by Ryad in March 2015 to quell the Houthi rebellion in Yemen.
The return of the Moroccan F16s ensured by an emirati-powered aircraft
Quoting sources close to the Moroccan Air Force, the site The Desk reveals that Rabat ordered the return of the squadron stationed at the base of Khamis Mushait. The fallback operation would have even been provided by an airlift aircraft Airbus A330 emirati, said the site.
The online publication is quick to say that “the reasons for this withdrawal are not related to any change of alliance with Ryad”. And to add that”Relations have also been settled since the meeting of Mohamed VI with the Crown Prince Mohamed Ben Salman in a Parisian restaurant” in the company of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri
Image of the meeting between the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI, the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohamed Ben Salman and the Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, tweeted by the latter and accompanied by two words: without comment.
According to the same source, the repatriation of Moroccan aircraft is rather linked to the mobilization of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) following the tensions generated by “Polisario’s desire to settle permanently in the triangle Mehaires-Tifariti-Bir Lahlou, east of the Moroccan defense wall .
It was General Abdelfattah Louarak who co-chaired the 10th Morocco-United States Defense Advisory Committee, from April 10 to 12 at the Pentagon, who made this choice “to respond effectively to the raising of the Air Force alert. ” , Writes The Desk.
A pretext to get out of the Yemeni nest egg
However, according to another source also quoted by Le Desk, Morocco, which acquired in 2008 24 American-made F16 fighters, does not need the repatriated squadron of Saudi Arabia to hit the Sahara.
“If the news becomes clear, it’s because Rabat has finally found a good excuse to get out of Yemen’s chep”, estimates this source who has a good knowledge of the file. The meeting between Mohamed VI, Mohamed Ben Salman and Emmanuel Macron in France on April 10, 2018, and the prospect of a humanitarian conference on Yemen next summer in the French capital would have even weighed in the decision.
It should be added that the kingdom has already lost a device in this conflict that still does not find a way out. One of the fighter jets put at the disposal of the Arab coalition, probably shot down by the rebels’ DCA, crashed in May 2015 in Yemeni territory and his pilot was killed. He had immediately been replaced in the Saudi-controlled device.
With some 1500 soldiers on the ground, Morocco had decided three years ago to provide all forms of support to the Arab coalition, political, intelligence, logistics or military, to restore the legitimate power in Yemen. No details are provided on the future of this mission. , April 9, 2018.