00:31 GMT +322 October 2017
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    March 15, 2016. Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and King Mohammed VI of Morocco meet in the Kremlin

    North Africa, Mideast Rely on Moscow to Maintain Their Security

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    While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan portrays himself as the "political governor" of the Muslim world such countries as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are turning to military cooperation with Russia.

    These nations feel their security is threatened and have turned to Moscow after Russia’s success in Syria, an article in the Turkish newspaper BirGun read.

    Military cooperation between Russia and Muslim countries, especially in North Africa, is building up. Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria are now facing the threat of jihadist violence and want to enhance their security systems.

    Russia and Morocco have a long history of friendly and mutually beneficial ties. In March, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI visited Moscow. Traditionally, visits of the Moroccan monarch to Russia have resulted in a number of important agreements.

    As for 2014, Russia was Morocco’s ninth-biggest trade partner. Moscow is increasing investments in Morocco due to its stable political situation.

    At the same time, Russia and Morocco have different views on a number of political issues, first of all on the Syrian crisis. Morocco has long opposed Syrian leader Bashar Assad. Moreover, Morocco is part of a Riyadh-led coalition fighting against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

    However, despite these differences, the kingdom needs military and technical cooperation to maintain its national security, the article read.

    As for Tunisia, its pivot to Russia took place in March after Daesh militants attacked the town of Ben Guerdan near the Libyan border. The militants attacked police and military facilities, having killed over 50 people, mainly civilians. 

    The strengthening of Russian-Tunisian ties started due to trade. Moscow has lowered tariff barriers for Tunisian-made goods. Steps have also been made to develop military cooperation.

    Algeria has also begun introducing strict security measures. Last year, the country bought from Russia a dozen Su-32 and Su-34 jets. The contract was nearly $500-600 million. Algeria also purchased Mi-28NE attack helicopters and Il-76MD-90A transportation aircraft.

    Recently, Russia delivered a satellite to Algeria which would allow monitoring of the situation at the borders with Tunisia, Libya, Mali and Niger.

    The reason for blooming cooperation between Muslim countries and Russia is that Moscow can offer more than the US and other Western countries which rarely share intelligence data, according to the article.

    In turn, Russia offers experience in fighting extremists as well as sharing intelligence data on the situation in the region.

    According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), over the past decade arms and ammunition imports to Algeria and Morocco rose by 19 percent. These countries are biggest arms buyers in the region.

    Russia’s Rosoboronexport reported that 36 percent of its annual sales ($15 billion) now go the Middle East and North Africa.

    Contrary to predictions, Russia’s engagement in Syria has not turned North African and Middle East countries from working with Moscow.

    "Now, Russia is a global power and Muslim countries facing security threats are now looking for military cooperation with Moscow," the author concluded.

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    Tags:
    arms sales, military cooperation, terrorism, security, trade, Tunisia, Russia, Morocco, Algeria
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