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

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.”


France recalls Turkey envoy after Erdogan ‘mental health’ jibe at Macron

Updated 24 min 57 sec ago

France recalls Turkey envoy after Erdogan ‘mental health’ jibe at Macron

  • France and its NATO ally are at loggerheads over a range of issues including maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean
  • Ankara has now been particularly incensed by a campaign championed by Macron to protect France’s secular values against radical Islam

ISTANBUL: France on Saturday said it was recalling its envoy to Turkey for consultations after comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggesting French counterpart Emmanuel Macron needed a mental health check-up that Paris condemned as unacceptable.
France and its NATO ally are at loggerheads over a range of issues including maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Syria and the escalating conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
But Ankara has now been particularly incensed by a campaign championed by Macron to protect France’s secular values against radical Islam, a debate given new impetus by the murder this month of a teacher who showed his class a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed.
“What can one say about a head of state who treats millions of members from different faith groups this way: first of all, have mental checks,” Erdogan said in a televised address in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri.
“What’s the problem of the individual called Macron with Islam and with the Muslims?” Erdogan asked.
“Macron needs mental treatment,” Erdogan added, while indicating he did not expect the French leader to win a new mandate in 2022 elections.
In a highly unusual move, a French presidential official said that the French ambassador to Turkey was being recalled from Ankara for consultations and would meet Macron to discuss the situation in the wake of Erdogan’s outburst.
“President Erdogan’s comments are unacceptable. Excess and rudeness are not a method. We demand that Erdogan change the course of his policy because it is dangerous in every respect,” the official told AFP.
The Elysee official, who asked not to be named, also said that France had noted “the absence of messages of condolence and support” from the Turkish president after the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty outside Paris.
The official also expressed concern over calls by Ankara for a boycott of French goods.
Macron this month described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and said the government would present a bill in December to strengthen a 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France.
He announced stricter oversight of schooling and better control over foreign funding of mosques.
But the debate over the role of Islam in France has hit a new intensity after the beheading of Paty, which prosecutors say was carried out by an 18-year-old Chechen who had contact with a jihadist in Syria.
Turkey is a majority Muslim but secular country which is a part of NATO but not the EU, where its membership bid has stalled for decades over a range of disputes.
“You are constantly picking on Erdogan. This will not earn you anything,” said the Turkish leader.
“There will be elections (in France) ... We will see your (Macron’s) fate. I don’t think he has a long way to go. Why? He has not achieved anything for France and he should do for himself.”
The other new rift between the two leaders is over Nagorno-Karabakh — a majority ethnic Armenian breakaway region inside Azerbaijan, which declared independence as the USSR fell, sparking a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives.
Turkey is strongly backing Azerbaijan in the conflict but has denied allegations by Macron that Ankara has sent hundreds of Syrian militia fighters to help Azerbaijan.
Erdogan on Saturday accused France — which along with Russia and the United States co-chairs the Minsk Group tasked with resolving the conflict — of “being behind the disasters and the occupations in Azerbaijan.”
He also repeated previous claims that France, which has a strong Armenian community, is arming Yerevan. “You think you will restore peace with the arms you are sending to Armenians. You cannot because you are not honest.”
But the Elysee official said that Erdogan had two months to reply to the demands for a change in stance and that it ends its “dangerous adventures” in the eastern Mediterranean and “irresponsible conduct” over Karabakh.
“Measures need to be taken by the end of the year,” said the official.