Egypt Stays Aloof from US-Arab Coalition, Opts for Independent Sea-Air Arm

Barring a last-minute change, Egypt’s President Abdul-Fatteh El-Sisi will not attend the forthcoming Riyadh summit on May 22, or join the Muslim-Arab coalition army to fight ISIS, which President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis expect to establish at this event.
Neither will he attend another event planned for the Trump itinerary: the ceremonial inauguration of a new US effort to revive Middle East peace diplomacy, at which the US President will be flanked by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Notwithstanding US and Saudi military assistance – estimated at $3 billion p.a., a similar amount of economic aid from the Gulf states, and the support the Egyptian army receives from America, Israel and the Gulf in its fight against ISIS in Sinai and the Libyan border, El-Sisi doggedly adheres to six principles he has set himself. They are:
1. Not to let the Egyptian army fight in foreign wars. This is consistent with its abstention from the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.
2. Restricting Egypt’s military presence in the Red Sea entries and exits from the Suez Canal to small naval and aerial task forces.
3. To carefully diversify its arms suppliers so as never again to be dependent on a single source, be it Russian or American, as it was in the past.
4. Cairo does not perceive Iran as a menace to its national security in the same way as the Gulf nations. At the same time, the Egyptian president regards the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah as a dangerous foe.
5. El-Sisi supports the Syrian ruler Bashar Assad and judges the seven-year Syrian war to be a battle against Islamist terrorists.
6. He takes care to keep Egyptian troops away from arenas in which US forces are deployed.
Western military observers take note of another military principle jealously upheld by El-Sisi: He declines to deploy his newest weapons systems outside a line he has drawn from the southern exit of the Suez Canal to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba.
This rule applies to the Type-209/1400 submarines, the first of which was delivered to the Egyptian navy on April 18 at Ras El-Tin, Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast, by the German Howaldtswerke-Deutsche shipbuilders
This submarine, which can sail up to 11,000 nautical miles when surfaced at a maximum speed of 21 knots, can fire missiles and torpedoes. It is also equipped with the latest navigation and communication systems for protecting Egypt’s coasts as well as its waters. Cairo has purchased four of these submarines from the German firm.
El-Sisi also plans to keep close to home the two Mistral-class helicopter carriers supplied by France in 2016 with Saudi funding. Nether is yet in operational service.
In the second half of April, a Russian military delegation arrived in Alexandria to discuss outfitting the carriers with advanced communications and control systems. Also in negotiation was a $1billion transaction for the sale of special Kamov Ka-52K and Ka-52 Alligator gunships specially designed for the Mistral’s decks.

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