The Russian Ministry of Protection introduced Oct. 10 that its naval forces will conduct joint workout routines with their Egyptian counterparts for the primary time within the Black Sea, which is bordered by a number of international locations, together with Turkey, one of many important rivals of Egypt within the area.
Observers and army consultants consider the joint naval train is “a qualitative leap within the present of drive between Cairo and Ankara,” additional fueling tensions between the 2 international locations.
The Russian Protection Ministry mentioned in an Oct. 10 assertion on its web site that army delegations from Egypt and Russia met for 3 days within the Russian metropolis of Novorossiysk to organize for the joint workout routines dubbed “Bridge of Friendship – 2020.” The ministry famous that the naval drills goal to “strengthen and develop army cooperation between the Egyptian Navy and the Russian Navy within the pursuits of safety and stability at sea.”
It added, “Tactical teams of warships of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy and the Egyptian Navy, with the assist of aviation, will work out joint duties to guard sea routes from numerous threats.”
Maj. Gen. Jamal Mazloum, a army knowledgeable and adviser on the Nasser Excessive Navy Academy, advised Al-Monitor that the naval drills within the Black Sea, held for the primary time in Russian territorial waters, are a complementary step to the Bridge of Friendship – 2019 train that happened within the Mediterranean sea final 12 months.
“Egypt will profit extra from these naval drills, as they are going to be held at a distance of three,000 kilometers [1,864 miles] from Egypt, and in closed waters within the Black Sea away from the Mediteranean airspace. That is a world energy present of the Egyptian army and navy following quite a few upgrades and newly launched weapons,” Mazloum mentioned.
Because the rise to energy of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt has strengthened its army capabilities, particularly within the navy. It bought 4 German-made Sort 209/1400 mod class submarines, two Mistral-class touchdown ships and a FREMM frigate from France.
Tarek Fahmy, a professor of worldwide relations at Cairo College, advised Al-Monitor the Egyptian-Russian train within the Black Sea sends an oblique message to Ankara, because it comes at a really important time and goals to confront Turkish colonial ambitions.
Tensions escalated between Egypt and Turkey following Ankara’s signing of a safety and maritime memorandum of understanding with the Libyan Authorities of Nationwide Accord (GNA) in November 2019. The settlement was rejected by Egypt and a number of other different international locations within the jap Mediterranean area. Turkey had additionally provided army assist for its ally Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the GNA.
The Turkish assist in Libya has drastically modified the course of the battles in Libya, as army strongman Khalifa Hifter, who’s backed by Cairo, confronted a collection of setbacks in his offensive in opposition to the GNA in Tripoli. Cairo responded to the Turkish strikes by threatening to launch a army intervention in Libya ought to the pro-government forces cross the cities of Sirte and al-Jufra. Egypt claimed this matter falls throughout the scope of its nationwide safety that it’s going to not permit the GNA forces and the Turkish-backed militias to jeopardize. Subsequently, a cease-fire was introduced in August.
Fahmy mentioned, “The train sends a pre-emptive message of deterrence to Turkey or every other get together threatening Egypt’s nationwide safety, whereby Egypt can transfer in strategic naval areas past the Mediterranean and in touch with very important areas of curiosity to Turkey. The drills are a reminder that the Egyptian military reached the doorstep of Istanbul in Turkey within the nineteenth century and is prepared to do that once more.”
In the meantime, he mentioned the train can be a Russian message to Ankara that it can’t transfer in any of the areas of strategic significance to Moscow, with out there being any countermovement by the latter in Turkey’s strategic areas. On this context, Fahmy pointed to the continued clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the tensions within the jap Mediterranean area.
On Oct. 14, Russian International Minister Sergey Lavrov voiced Moscow’s disagreement with Turkey over the Nagorno-Karabakh battle.
In the meantime, the Russian announcement of the train was met with official Egyptian silence. The Egyptian army spokesman didn’t reply to Al-Monitor’s request for remark.
Mohammed Soliman, a fellow on the Washington Institute for Close to East Coverage, believes Cairo’s silence carries messages to Ankara that it doesn’t search any escalation in gentle of the relative progress within the Libyan negotiations sponsored by Cairo.
Cairo had intensified its efforts to deliver collectively the Libyan events, and hosted three Libyan delegations in a single month, together with GNA representatives, with the goal of reaching an answer to the disaster.
The newest discussions have been held in Cairo on Oct. 11-13, between delegations representing the Libyan Home of Representatives and the Libyan Excessive Council of State. The attendees agreed to finish the transitional section and provoke preparations for the everlasting section, and to carry a second spherical in Egypt to finish constructive discussions on constitutional preparations.
But Soliman argued that the Bridge of Friendship – 2020 within the Black Sea signifies that the Egyptian army naval vessels have entered the strategic depth of Turkey. “This can be a message from Cairo that it will probably reply to Turkey’s strikes in Libya by shifting within the coronary heart of the Turkish depth,” he mentioned.
This comes as Turkey introduced that it’s going to begin testing its Russian-made S-400 missile protection programs on Oct. 13-16. Ankara issued aviation warnings to clear the airspace and waters off its Black Coastline.
“This exhibits Ankara’s concern concerning the implications of Egyptian army models crossing the Turkish Bosporus Strait. Turkey performed army workout routines similtaneously Egypt, as a symbolic response to the Egyptian-Russian drills,” Soliman famous.