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Egypt-UAE: 48 Years of Strategic Military Cooperation


Sally ElShorbagy

Wed, 13 Nov 2019 15:43 GMT

Since the independence of the United Arab Emirates from UK in 1971, relations between Egypt and the UAE have not only remained at a good level but also have developed at an unprecedented rate. The Egyptian leadership has always asserted that Egypt’s national security is part and parcel of the security of the Gulf region in general and the UAE in particular.

This was crystal clear in the statements made by top military commanders in Egypt when they discussed means of boosting bilateral relations in the field of armed forces cooperation. The sentiment was also highlighted during mutual visits of the two countries’ delegations in the various military domains. 

The UAE is a strategic partner of Egypt and one of the Gulf countries that supported President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi since he took power in June 2014. On several occasions, Egypt’s president has reiterated his country’s readiness to confront aggression if the security of the Arab Gulf is exposed to any threat. This forms a cornerstone of the sturdy relations between both countries. 

“If the security of the Gulf is directly threatened, Egypt will mobilize its forces to support its brothers,” the Egyptian president remarked in November 2018 during the second World Youth Forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. 

Al-Sisi reiterated Egypt’s readiness to confront any aggression if the security of the Arab Gulf is exposed to a threat. “Egypt stands body and soul by the side of our Gulf brothers,” he said, without specifying the possible source of any outside threat. 

He said, “If the Gulf security witnesses any danger or threat from any side, the entire Egyptian population, not only the president, will agree to send forces to repel aggression and support our brothers,” asserting that, “Egypt will not accept any aggression against Arab national security.” 

On November 2nd, 2019, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates ended exercise “Night Eagles”, a month of military drills held as part of a series of joint exercises between the two countries, said Egyptian army spokesperson Tamer Al Refaie. 

Al Refaie said that the latest drills focused on improving the tactics of the main forces during the different stages of operations management. The spokesperson revealed that the drills included military activities such as setting ambushes, organising rescue operations, and planning land and aerial scouting.

According to Al Refaie, the drills demonstrated the high degree of professionalism and cooperative spirit of both forces. He added that the training included tactics to deal with emergency conditions and to boost cooperation, exchange expertise and mobility on different types of terrain. 

On August 4th, 2019, Egyptian, US and UAE forces concluded another joint military drill, codenamed "Eagle Salute – Eagle Response 2019," in the territorial waters in the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia participated in the exercise as an observer. 

Various naval units from the Egyptian, US and UAE naval forces took part in the exercise, which lasted for several days. The forces employed frigates, missile-launching boats and mine hunters in the drills. Special naval units, the coast guard, and F16 jet fighters also took part. 

The forces conducted activities including searches of suspected ships, with the aim of strengthening cooperation with brotherly countries, sharing knowledge of the latest in military systems and techniques, and boosting efforts to achieve naval security and stability in the region. 

On November 4th, 2018, five Arab Armed forces from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan, with Morocco and Lebanon as observers, took part in 13 days of manoeuvres, called “Arab Shield-1”, at the Mohammed Najib Military Base and joint Mediterranean air and sea training zones, aiming at reinforcing their joint combat capabilities. 

Al Refaie commented: “The training aims to develop joint action among Arab countries. They will gain mutual experience of fighting in cities and participating in the implementation of Arab training based on the possibility of joint military action.” 

On March 14th, 2017, Egypt's Armed Forces and their UAE counterparts continued the activities of the "Zayed-2" joint military exercise that took place in light of the annual joint exercises between the two countries.  

The exercise continued until the end of March, coming within the framework of the distinctive relations binding Cairo and the UAE. Ground forces, marine units and air forces from the two sides participated in the military drills. The exercises showed that armed forces in both countries have both the personal and technical capabilities that enable them to confront any danger that could pose a threat to the security and stability of Egypt and the UAE. 

On July 22nd, 2017, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Egypt to participate in the inauguration of the Mohammed Najib Military Base in Al Hammam City, west of Alexandria, the largest military base in the Middle East and Africa. 

On April 11th, 2016, formations of the Egyptian naval forces arrived in the UAE to participate in the joint training “Khalifa-2”, which also came within the framework of the joint training plan between the two countries. Khalifa-2 represented one of the strongest and largest joint exercises in the Arabian Gulf since it was to unify combat concepts, transfer and exchange training experiences between the forces of both countries, and provide training in the management of joint maritime combat work using the latest naval tactics and modern combat methods. 

March 11th, 2014 witnessed the end of exercise “Zayed-1” between Egypt and the UAE, which reinforced the historical and strategic relations between the two countries. The joint military training included three phases, starting with the arrival of the Egyptian forces in the UAE, followed by specialised training and practical exercises using live ammunition, Mirage 2000 jets, other fighter jets and warships. In addition, units of artillery and attack helicopters were deployed beside marines, special forces and paratroopers.  

The “Zayed-1” military exercise was the first training of its kind regarding the strength of particular units, especially the naval and air forces. In attendance was the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the then Minister of Defence of Egypt Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Saudi Deputy Minister of Defence Emir Salman bin Sultan bin Abdel Aziz. The military attachés of the two countries followed up on the military affairs and cooperation.   

On June 23rd, 2014, the Egyptian navy and the UAE naval forces held a joint exercise “Khalifa-1”, which began in the Egyptian port Safaga on the Red Sea coast, which was attended by elements of the Egyptian and Emirati thunderbolt forces, as well as a number of naval assets. 

On October 12th, 2014, the joint exercise "Right Arrow" was hosted by the UAE to confirm the partnership and strategic cooperation between Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, underlining Egypt's keenness to strengthen areas of military cooperation with UAE. The military manoeuvre was conducted using live ammunition, thus contributing to the highest efficiency and combat readiness of the armed forces of both countries. 

One of the strongest pillars on which the UAE-Egypt relations are based is the mutual awareness in both countries’ leadership of the importance of the relationship and the necessity to develop it in all fields.  

This was clearly expressed by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan by taking his historic decision to support Egypt in its war against Israel in October 1973 until the last penny in his treasury. In a famous speech he said: “Arab oil can never be dearer than Arab blood. Everything has a heart and Egypt is the heart of the Arab nation.” 

The President of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, praised the pivotal role of Egypt in raising the flag of the Arabs in the face of the nation's challenges, affirming: “A strong and prosperous Egypt represents the largest strategic stock for the Arabs and their rise.” 

Middle East