Moroccan chief of staff to visit Israel, take part in int'l IDF conference

Moroccan military chief Belkhir El Farouk will be one of nine chiefs of staff that will take part in an international conference held by the IDF.

  IDF Chief of Staff (Lt.-Gen.) Aviv Kohavi on his first official visit to Morroco, July 19, 2022.  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)
IDF Chief of Staff (Lt.-Gen.) Aviv Kohavi on his first official visit to Morroco, July 19, 2022.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)

Morocco’s Chief of the Royal Armed Forces Lt.-Gen. Belkhir El Farouk will make his first official visit to Israel this week and take part in an international conference held by the IDF.

The week-long “Operational Innovation” conference will see military delegations from 25 different countries participating.

El Farouk will be one of nine chiefs of staff that will take part in the conference, along with over a dozen delegations from Finland, India, Poland, Italy, Czech Republic, Holland, Canada, Germany, United States, Greece, Cyprus, NATO and others.

Despite the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, the British delegation will attend the conference. They will attend in line with the national mourning guidelines.

The military says the conference will “enable the deepening of cooperation in the areas of strategy and defense, as well as for the expansion of in-depth mutual learning and international cooperation when developing and operating military capabilities.”

“The conference is an additional milestone in strengthening the cooperation between the IDF and other countries worldwide, as well as for the creation of regional security and stability,” the statement said.

"The conference is an additional milestone in strengthening the cooperation between the IDF and other countries worldwide"

The IDF's Spokesperson Unit

El Farouk hosted IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi in the North African kingdom in July. Kohavi also met with Defense Minister Abdellatif Loudiyi and with the chief of Morocco’s Intelligence Directorate, Brahim Hassani. The officers then held a strategic panel in the presence of division heads of the Morrocan military.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz reviews an honor guard in Rabat during his visit to Morocco last week. (credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)Defense Minister Benny Gantz reviews an honor guard in Rabat during his visit to Morocco last week. (credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)

El Farouk hosted IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi in the North African kingdom in July. Kohavi also met with Defense Minister Abdellatif Loudiyi and with the chief of Morocco’s Intelligence Directorate, Brahim Hassani. The officers then held a strategic panel in the presence of division heads of the Moroccan military.

“The meetings discussed opportunities for military cooperation, both in exercises and training, as well as in the operational and intelligence fields,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement at the time, adding that “the officials noted the historical and cultural ties between the two nations and their common interests in the Middle East.”

IDF took part in large-scale African military drill

Shortly after the meeting in Rabat, the IDF took part in African Lion, the largest annual military exercise held on the African continent, alongside Morocco and several African nations.

The head of the Middle East and North Africa Division of the Policy & Political-Military Bureau in the Israel Defense Ministry, who also serves as the Defense Attaché to Morocco, participated in the drill along with two IDF officers.

While Jerusalem and Rabat have maintained covert military ties for years, they only reestablished official ties in 2020 under the Abraham Accords along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

Morocco, Israel's strong military ties

Though Morocco is one of several countries to have normalized relations with Israel, the ties between the militaries are warmer and stronger than those of the Gulf, due in part to the strong Jewish communities in both countries. Morocco also faces different threats than the Gulf States, allowing the military ties between the two countries to be more open and public.

 IDF participates in African Lion drill in Morocco for the first time (credit: CHRISTOPHER HAL) IDF participates in African Lion drill in Morocco for the first time (credit: CHRISTOPHER HAL)

In November, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding that established a solid security cooperation framework, formalizing defense relations between them. The MoU allows for increased cooperation in the fields of intelligence, industrial collaboration, military training and more.

Following the signing, relations between the two countries increased significantly, but last week Israel’s envoy to Morocco David Govrin was recalled over allegations of sexual harassment and workplace disputes. He is also suspected of failing to report an expensive gift he received from the Moroccan royal family.