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Why Egypt is keen to bolster its navy

Egyptian Navy officers stand aboard the deck of S42, a German-made Type-209/1400 submarine, during a handover ceremony in the German Baltic city of Kiel. (AFP)

CAIRO: Egypt this week received the second of four submarines ordered from Germany, a step Egyptians say is essential to bolster national security amid regional turmoil.
In recent years, Egypt has signed multibillion-dollar arms deals with European countries to boost its military capabilities.
Egypt’s leadership said the new submarines are a significant addition to the armed forces, particularly the navy, due to their combat capabilities.
Khalid Okasha, a Cairo-based security analyst, said political turbulence in the region has been the major trigger for Egypt to modernize its army.
“Egypt is keen to have a deterrent power to thwart any imminent threats,” he told Arab News. “The regional scene requires that the armed forces be ready for any confrontation, and this submarine deal with Germany is part of several others with European countries, such as Mistral warships from France.”
He added: “Such submarines are of great importance when it comes to maneuvering in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea to protect vital marine interests, including newly discovered oil and gas fields, and to secure routes leading to the Suez Canal.”
In 2011, Egypt signed a contract to receive the German-made submarine. It has a range of 11,000 nautical miles, a top speed of 21.5 knots, and is equipped with missiles and torpedoes.
The first submarine was handed over in Germany last December, and officially joined Egypt’s navy in April.
Political analyst Sameh Rashed told Arab News that Egypt should have started receiving the submarines in 2012, “but Berlin preferred to wait as the Muslim Brotherhood was in power at the time, and Israel repeatedly contacted Germany in protest over the deal.”

Public opinion
Rashed said that when trying to analyze where Egyptians stand on the matter, their social and educational backgrounds should be considered.
The educated elites vary between those who think the military’s purchases of such modern technologies are necessary to bolster national security, and those who think it is important to consider the economic costs, he added.
To ordinary Egyptians, modernizing the military and adding to its capabilities is a necessity, and an achievement for the state and its leadership, Rashed said.
“The Egyptian collective conscience is convinced that the country is constantly under threat and must continue to modernize its defense capabilities,” he said.
“The Egyptian mindset rejects that any crises or economic difficulties act as a hindrance to the army’s readiness to engage in an armed conflict or confrontation at any time,” he added.
“There’s a correlation that suggests that any positive addition to Egypt’s defense capabilities tends to increase the popularity of the leadership and the president in particular.”

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