Egypt hosts international arms expo

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An Egyptian honor guard soldier stands in front of a poster advertising the first arms fair organized in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi inaugurated the fair, where hundreds of companies are participating. (AP)
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Members of an Army band wear Pharaonic costumes during the opening of the first arms fair organized in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. (AP)
Updated 03 December 2018
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Egypt hosts international arms expo

  • The three-day Egypt Defense Expo that opened Monday features the world’s top arms companies
  • The United States, Egypt’s largest arms supplier, had over 40 companies present, alongside major firms from Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia

CAIRO: Egypt opened its first international weapons fair on Monday, an event that organizers hope will project a message to the world that the country is secure and stable.
The three-day Egypt Defence Expo features the world's top arms companies and hundreds of military and civilian participants from dozens of countries.
The United States, Egypt's largest arms supplier, had over 40 companies present, alongside major firms from Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia, China, India and Gulf monarchies.
"We are seeing a shift in paradigm away from some of the heavy machinery that characterize our assistance in past years toward a more nimble kind of approach to countering terrorism," US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Dorothy Shea said.
"We are trying to share our hard-won lessons from the battlefield and help our Egyptian colleagues take advantage of that and make sure that their acquisitions of equipment are appropriate and really benefit them to the maximum."
Organizers have not specified sales targets or expectations, but say agreements will be signed and announced at the fair, held in a massive expo center where marching bands and thousands of pieces of military equipment were on display.
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, who opened the event, led the 2013 military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president. Egypt is currently battling a Daesh-led insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, and many of its vehicles and hardware on display have been battle tested there.
"Defense and armament are a pillar of peace," Defense Minister Gen. Mohammed Zaki said in opening remarks. "Peace must be protected by power that secures."
An upbeat video shown to participants at the opening ceremony highlighted the army's leading role in Egyptian society, blending scenes of Red Sea tourism and pharaonic temples with troops and equipment on the move. Zaki said the military only acquires power to protect and guarantee the country's safety and unity.


Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

Updated 22 May 2019
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Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

  • The acts of sabotage near the UAE coast highlight new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies
  • Experts say increased threat to navigation and global oil supplies not limited regionally but has global dimension

DUBAI: Amid rising tensions between the US and Iran, sabotage attacks on four commercial vessels off the coast of the UAE’s Fujairah port have raised serious questions about maritime security in the Gulf.

The incidents, which included attacks on two Saudi oil tankers, were revealed by the UAE government on May 12, drawing strong condemnation from governments in the Middle East and around the world as well as the Arab League.

Now experts have warned that the sabotage attacks highlight a new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies.

A Saudi government source said: “This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation, and adversely affects regional and international peace and security.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the incidents threatened international maritime traffic.

While crimes on the high seas, including piracy, have tapered off in recent years, the attacks on the ships, three of which are registered to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have called into question common assumptions about the Gulf’s stability.

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Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington D.C., said governments of the Gulf region are mandated to watch over oceans and waterways. “On top of this requirement is the need for a new regime of maritime coordination to prevent attacks on shipping because of the repercussions for logistical chains, corporate strategies and insurance rates,” he told Arab News.

The sabotage attacks took place east of Fujairah port, outside the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway through which most Gulf oil exports pass and which Iran has threatened to block in the event of a military confrontation with the US.

Johan Obdola, president of the International Organization for Security and Intelligence, said the recent attacks underscore the need for closer intelligence-coordinated capabilities among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including satellite communication and maritime or vessel security technology.

“The threats to oil tankers are not limited to the Gulf, but have a global dimension,” he said.

According to Obdola: “A coordinated joint task force integrating oil, intelligence security and military forces should be (established) to project and prepare (for potential future attacks). This is a time to be as united as ever.”

GCC countries have intensified security in international waters, the US navy said. Additionally, two US guided-missile destroyers entered the Gulf on May 16 in response to what the US called signs of possible Iranian aggression.

“The attack has brought (the region) a bit closer to a possible military confrontation amid the escalation in tensions between the US and Iran,” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a former chairman of the Arab Council for Social Sciences, told Arab News.

He said Iran is purposely dragging Saudi Arabia, the UAE and possibly other Gulf countries into its fight with the US. “The credibility of the US is at stake and Trump has said he will meet any aggression with unrelenting force. If Iran continues on this path, we might see some kind of a military showdown on a limited scale.”

Given the importance of the region’s oil supplies to the US, Abdulla said “it’s not just the responsibility of Arab Gulf states but an international responsibility” to keep the shipping lanes safe.