Weltnachrichten – AU – Joint Egyptian-Russian naval exercises – A first for the Egyptians in the Black Sea and a possible « signal to Ankara »

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Ruslan Mamedov, program coordinator at the Russian Council for International Affairs and co-author of the book The Army and Security in the Middle East and North Africa wrote an analysis for Kommersant of the week-long Russian-Egyptian naval exercises, code-named Bridge of Friendship, the on 17th. November 2020 started. The exercises took place in the Black Sea, and to get there the Egyptian naval squadron had to pass the Turkish Strait en route to the Russian port of Novorossiysk, which served as the hub of the exercises. Mamedov’s piece was therefore entitled « Bridge over the Bosporus ». « 

Russia and Egypt have been performing joint maneuvers in a row for several years. The first « Bridge of Friendship » took place in June 2015 in the Mediterranean. In November 2019, the Arrow of Friendship-2019 maneuvers of the military air defense forces of the two countries took place, and a little earlier in Russia, the Russian Air Force dispatched Egyptian paratroopers as part of the forces of the defenders in tactical air strike doctrines of the Friendship-2019 maneuvers. [1]

This year’s exercises took place in the context of tensions between Russia and Turkey and between Egypt and Turkey, which is why the entry of the Egyptian Navy into the Bosporus attracted attention for the first time. Some Russian military experts commented, « Unnamed Russian military experts predicted that the naval drills should sober up some hotheads in Turkey who suddenly remembered their country’s imperial ambitions. Cairo has disagreements with the Turkish leadership over the situation in Libya, and Moscow took responsibility for resolving the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, in which the Turks did not hesitate to intervene. « [2] Mamedov agrees with this rationale but qualifies it by adding that while Russia is firing a shot over the Turkish bow, Russia continues to intend to cooperate with Ankara. Mamedov’s article follows below: [3]

« The weekly Russian-Egyptian naval exercise ‘Friendship Bridge-2020’ started today in Novorossiysk. [It is] a historic event: Egyptian ships have never entered the Black Sea. Against the background of the events in the Middle East and in the neighboring regions (in the Mediterranean and in the Caucasus), the exercises were perceived as a signal to Ankara. ‘

« To take part in the naval exercises, Egyptian ships passed the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. Egyptian observers note that for Cairo the entry of its ships into the Black Sea, into the Turkish zone of influence, is an opportunity to demonstrate to Ankara that it should count on the opinions of other countries. The traditional rivalry between Ankara and Cairo has recently turned into utter hostility. Egypt is particularly unhappy with Ankara’s actions in Libya, where the Turks backed the government in Tripoli and signed two treaties without the involvement of other countries in the region (one of the treaties regulates the delimitation of maritime borders in the Mediterranean). .

« Given Cairo’s support for Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan national army, many of Ankara’s actions in the Libyan conflict are perceived as colonialist and hostile. From the headquarters of the League of Arab States in Cairo, it is declared that the occupation of Syrian (and therefore Arab) territories by Turkey is unacceptable. The complex mosaic of competition in the Eastern Mediterranean in connection with energy issues brings Egypt and Turkey to the other side on almost all issues.

« It is no wonder that against this background, the Russian-Egyptian naval exercises are perceived by many as a signal to Ankara, especially since Russia also has something to reproach Turkey for, albeit implicitly.

« It should be noted, however, that Russia is trying to maintain a neutral position in the Middle East and to maintain contact with all actors. Judging by the same Libya question, one can see that Moscow takes Cairo’s interests into account, but at the same time actively cooperates with Turkey. In addition, despite the current political situation, the exercises were planned in advance and the parties discussed their preparation for a long time. And the reality of the Russian-Egyptian exercises themselves has long since become common. In 2015, the first naval exercises « Bridge of Friendship » took place in the Mediterranean off the coast of Egypt. The Russian and Egyptian military have only stepped up their cooperation since then. One of the most recent events was the Air Defense Forces exercise “Arrow of Friendship 2019” in Egypt.

« The naval exercises of Russia and Egypt aim to ‘strengthen and develop cooperation’ between the two countries in the area of ​​security and to ‘exchange experience between military personnel to prevent various threats in areas of intensive shipping from routes’. Overall, this approach provides a serious basis for the bilateral Moscow and Cairo agendas, whose views on international politics largely coincide, as do their areas of interest.

« One of the latest examples is Sudan, where Moscow plans to build a logistics center for the Russian Navy. At the same time, Egypt and Sudan began to build up bilateral military cooperation: while the Egyptian ships [for naval exercises] were being sent to the Black Sea, the Egyptian army carried out the joint military exercises « Nile Eagles-1 » with Sudan. [4]

« But the motifs of Moscow and Cairo are of course different. While Egypt is trying to develop a common position with Sudan to counter Ethiopia in the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Moscow is building its presence in a strategically and logistically important region with access to the world ocean through which important trade routes run. While Moscow on the one hand focuses its attention on the Middle East, it also focuses its attention on the African continent. The Egyptian-Russian exercise is another step in this direction. . . « 

[4] See MEMRI special dispatch no. 9051, Russian military expert Sivkov: New base on the Red Sea in Sudan enables Russia to follow the course of the political process in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and in Northeast Africa on 23. November 2020.

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World news – AU – Joint Egyptian-Russian naval exercises – A first for the Egyptians in the Black Sea and A. Possible « signal to Ankara »

Ref: https://www.memri.org

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