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)
Updated 10 August 2017
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Why Egypt is keen to bolster its navy

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.”


White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king

Keeping spirits alive Palestinian youths play with rollerblades by walls covered with graffiti at the sea port in Gaza City on Tuesday. AFP
Updated 20 June 2018
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White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king

  • The US has been trying to rally support for projects to rescue Gaza’s economy, which has been weakened by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, while continuing to isolate Hamas
  • Jared Kushner’s team plans stops in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled, though the Americans have left the door open to meeting with them

AMMAN: President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, kicked off a swing through the Middle East on Tuesday, meeting with Jordan’s king as part of a broader effort to lay the groundwork for an expected Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Kushner and White House envoy Jason Greenblatt held talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah, a key US ally.
A White House statement said the talks focused on US-Jordan cooperation, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the US efforts “to “facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
US officials have said their peace plan is near completion and could be released this summer. But it faces resistance from the Palestinians, who have cut off ties since Trump recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December and moved the US Embassy in Israel to the holy city last month. The Palestinians, who seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital, accuse the US of siding with Israel in the most sensitive issue of their decades-long conflict.
Kushner’s team also plans stops in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled, though the Americans have left the door open to meeting with them.
The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip for an independent state. Israel captured the territories in the 1967 Mideast war. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas militants seized control of the territory two years later.
The US has been trying to rally support for projects to rescue Gaza’s economy, which has been weakened by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, while continuing to isolate Hamas. The US, Israel and Western allies shun Hamas as a terrorist group. Details of the plan have not been released, but Palestinians fear they will get little more than a symbolic foothold in Jerusalem. They also fear that aid to Gaza will help strengthen Hamas’ control over the territory.
Jordan also has a stake in east Jerusalem, serving as the custodian of major Muslim and Christian shrines there. Jerusalem’s walled Old City, captured and annexed by Israel in 1967, is home to Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy sites.
Abdullah has also rejected Trump’s moves in Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to relinquish any part of the city.
Netanyahu traveled to Amman on Monday for a surprise meeting with Abdullah, telling the king that Israel remains committed to the status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem.
Abdullah told Netanyahu that the fate of Jerusalem must be determined in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and that a solution should be based on establishing a Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital, on lands Israel captured in 1967.
Palestinian officials fear the Trump administration plan will leave them with a mini-state in the Gaza Strip, parts of the West Bank and a foothold in Jerusalem. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said he will reject any plan being floated by the Trump team, arguing that the US has forfeited its role as mediator because of decisions seen as pro-Israel.