King Hassan of Morocco told the nation in a radio and television address from Rabat on Thursday (Feb 22) that he was sending several hundred motorised troops to Syria starting next month.
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CU King speaks (IN ARABIC) ZOOM OUT Ministers and Army officers on either side of King
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Background: King Hassan of Morocco told the nation in a radio and television address from Rabat on Thursday (Feb 22) that he was sending several hundred motorised troops to Syria starting next month.
The King discussed the move with senior military advisers before announcing that his troops would have a chance to "mingle their blood" with those other Arab soldiers.
He said the force would consist entirely of volunteers.
The current period of "neither peace nor war" in the Middle East would end soon, the King said, and he was sending troops because the end would not come "with the stroke of a pen" but with "another final combat with the enemy striking hard at one of the Arab states affronting it".
SYNOPSIS: Morocco's King Hassan made a nationwide television address on Thursday, announcing that troops were being sent to Syria to aid the Arab struggle in the Middle East.
The King declared he was sending "hundreds and hundreds" of motorised troops to Syria. This would give his army personnel a chance to "mingle their blood" with their Arab brothers. He added that the expeditionary force would be composed entirely of volunteers and would leave for Syria by way of Algiers early next month.
The King declared that great powers -- and he specifically mentioned the Chinese -- had a duty to ensure a durable peace in the Middle East. If these great powers chose to do so, they could impose their will on all belligerents. He explained that he had decided to send troops to Syria because he believed that the current period, marked by neither peace nor was would soon come to an end in the Middle East. He foresaw "final combat with the enemy striking hard at one of the Arab states affronting it."
The King recalled that this would be the second time that Morocco had sent troops to the Middle East. Shortly before the outbreak of the 1967 war, some two-thousand men had been sent. But they got only as far as the Libya's border with Egypt before the fighting ended. On the current mission, King Hassan said the Moroccan troops would help defend the Golan Heights -- the Israeli-occupied range which has been the scene of recent incidents. The King said he was convinced that Israel would launch its final attack against Syria.
The King's speech was interpreted by elements in the Moroccan opposition as an attempt to channel off the activities of restive troops in the army. Since the last abortive coup -- in August 1972 -- the armed forces have been completely overhauled and many high-ranking officers eliminated in a rigorous purge. There have even been reports that the Army has been deprived of ammunition, which is locked up in special depots under joint civil and military guards.