News Analysis: Egypt's army maneuvers in Mediterranean "message" to Turkey: experts

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-06 23:49:37|Editor: ZX
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by Marwa Yahya, Abdel Maguid Kamal

CAIRO, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- The most recent maneuvers conducted by the Egyptian army are a message to Turkey which seeks oil exploration in the Mediterranean Sea and deploys troops in Libya against Cairo's desire, according to Egyptian analysts.

"It's (the military exercises) a message to the Turkish side to realize the capabilities of Egyptian army on battle ground," said Tariq Fahmy, a professor of international relations at Cairo University.

The Egyptian naval forces conducted a large-scale amphibious exercise in the Mediterranean Sea amid escalating tensions in the region after Turkey's parliament agreed to send military troops to Libya aimed at shoring up the UN-recognized government in Tripoli.

In December, Egypt's naval forces conducted activities in the Mediterranean Sea aimed at imposing maritime control on the country's economic zone and securing vital targets in deep water, according to a statement by the armed forces.

Fahmy highlighted that the drills are important for Egypt in securing its interests in the Mediterranean region, especially the gas fields.

The political expert reiterated Egypt is prioritizing naval and military options to respond at all levels once Turkey sends the troops to Libya.

The drills happened while relations between Turkey and other countries, including Egypt, Cyprus and Greece, are tense over exploration of oil and gas in the Mediterranean Sea.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said recently "Libya for us is a direct national security, and we won't allow anyone to control it."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Turkish soldiers had begun deploying to Libya after parliament approved such a move last week.

Erdogan said Turkey's objective was "not to fight," but "to support the legitimate government and avoid a humanitarian tragedy."

The Tripoli government has come under sustained attack since the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar launched its military offensive to take over Tripoli in April.

Haftar is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, while the UN-backed government has the support of Turkey and Qatar.

Concerned about its 1,200-km western border with Libya where the smuggling of arms and militants has been very active since the ouster and killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Egypt will host on Wednesday a coordinating meeting that involves the foreign ministers of France, Italy, Greece and Cyprus to discuss the rapid developments in Libya.

Meanwhile, military expert Gamal Mazloum said the recent amphibious operation was aimed at testing the capabilities of the armed forces in all sectors: ground, naval, and the air forces.

"The drills are a warning that Egypt is ready to challenge any aggression to whoever thinks to approach the Egyptian borders," he added.

However, Mazloum explained that Egypt doesn't want to risk by sending troops to Libya, but it will support Haftar's army in other ways.

Mahmoud Khalaf, advisor with Supreme Military Naser Academy, agrees that the military drills are part of the deterrence policy adopted by Egypt.

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