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Fearing Trump, Morocco reconsiders US arms instead of Russia’s

Israeli soldiers walk near an Israeli Irone Dome defence system (L), a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, the MIM-104 Patriot (C), and an anti-ballistic missile the Arrow 3 (R) during Juniper Cobra's joint exercise press briefing at Hatzor Israeli Air Force Base in central Israel, on 25 February, 2016 [AFP/GIL COHEN-MAGEN/Getty]

Morocco reconsidered purchasing Russian Air Defence System S400, fearing the US’ Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which imposes sanctions on countries dealing with Iran, Russia, and North Korea, reported Spanish magazine Defensa.com

Defensa.com revealed in the report, which Arabi21 translated, that “until recently, Morocco has been interested in the S400, which is the newest and most powerful air defence system in the world.”

“However, the act that the US adopted to confront its adversaries with sanctions known as CAATSA, which imposes sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea, has changed Rabat’s intentions,” the report continued.

The magazine quoted its resources as saying: “To avoid the US sanctions, Morocco has returned to the US arms market, and entered into serious negotiations with the United States to buy the air defence system (MIM-104 Patriot).”

The magazine said that this Patriot could monitor 100 targets, launch nine missiles at different targets simultaneously, and can withstand ballistic missiles over 40 kilometres and mobile targets within 100-kilometre range.

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The magazine explained that “Morocco’s negotiations on the Patriot missiles have been largely directed by US’s open war against the countries that announced their desire to buy the Russian S400, such as China, on which the US has imposed sections, and Turkey, which the US sanctioned by suspending the F35 aircraft deal.”

Defensa.com added: “the Moroccan position is very similar that of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have also moved away from using Russian arms under the US threats. However, it is unlike Iraq, which is extorting the US, and India, which has benefited from a US exemption after concluding a huge arms deal with Washington.”

The magazine stated: “Morocco has long been involved in an arms race for long-range air defence systems. It bought from China the HQ-9B system, from France the SAMP-T system, and bet on the Russian S400 defence system, which for Rabat has been an important goal, as Long-range defence weapons are the obvious weakness of the Moroccan defence strategy.”

Defensa.com also stated that Morocco’s neighbouring countries have air defence systems that include PAC-2, PMU-2, S-300 and 104C-MIM.

The magazine emphasised that, in recent years, Algeria had received the Iskandar defence system with the ability to hit targets at a depth of 300 kilometres, which constitutes a severe threat that requires a prompt response.

Russia says Iskandar is a dangerous attack weapon capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, destroying remote fortified installations. Also, it is difficult for air defence to intercept the Iskandar missile.

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