Turkey’s behavior united Egypt and France to form defensive lines in the Mediterranean
This post was published in Defence24. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.
WARSAW, (BM) – In the present, highly tense regional situation, all manifestations of military activity observed in the Mediterranean are becoming even symbolic. Especially when ships from France and Egypt cooperate with each other, i.e. countries that openly criticize Turkey’s behavior towards Libya and, more broadly, the entire sea area.
Joint maneuvers of the French and Egyptian frigates signal not only the will to improve cooperation between the armed forces of both countries, they are also, and perhaps above all, a political signal.
Last Saturday, a spokesman for the Egyptian armed forces (Tamer al-Refai) reportedly reported on joint Egyptian-French naval exercises in the Mediterranean.
They are in line with the government’s policy in Cairo in terms of increasing the capabilities of its own armed forces based on cooperation with allied and partner countries.
As part of the current maneuvers with the French, various scenarios of joint actions were tested, including fighting enemy naval units, attacking targets on land and in the air, or cooperation of surface units with their own sea aviation.
The crews of the Egyptian (Tahya Masr) and the French (Aconit) frigate were directly involved in the exercises in the Mediterranean.
As emphasized by the Egyptians, this type of training cooperation is to guarantee the building of interoperability between the fleets of both countries, in the event of the need to conduct joint missions.
Apart from courtesy statements about the cooperation of both countries and the development of opportunities for mutual cooperation in the area of activities for regional security, another perspective is obviously emerging – Turkey. Both France and Egypt are in opposition to Turkish actions in Libya, but also more broadly to the Mediterranean.
Hence, it is not surprising that the Turkish media describes the abovementioned naval exercises by both countries as a signal against Ankara.
Egypt directly suggests the possibility of an armed intervention in Libya, even having the consent to “fraternal intervention” from some Libyan parties. Moreover, he conducted massive exercises of joint types of armed forces code-named “Hasm 2020” in the regions of contact with Libya.
They are to be a test of the ability to combat paramilitary forces as well as terrorists and mercenaries. It should be remembered that Cairo accuses the Turks of sending mercenary and terrorist formations to Libya.
And the authorities in Paris were offended, among others a recent maritime incident where the French frigate Courbet was blocked by Turkish ships. Everything happened when the French wanted to inspect a unit under the Tanzanian flag, which could have smuggled weapons into Libya.
It should be remembered that Egypt and its armed forces look very negatively on the development of Turkey’s military and political presence in the Mediterranean. Thus, the authorities in Cairo are repeatedly seeking cooperation with other countries in the region, hostile to Turkey’s actions.
The Egyptian armed forces conducted extensive exercises with the French throughout 2019 – “Cleopatra-Japian”, “Ramses”, etc. However, it was also visible in the context of the military exercises between Egypt and Greece or Cyprus.
It can be safely said that the more Ankara tightens its regional policy and in the sphere of symbols (for example, the re-transformation of Hagia Sophia into a mosque), the more the ties of cooperation will tighten among a possible wider anti-Turkish coalition.
There is also an increasing risk of incidents, including armed ones, in Libya or in areas where natural resources are extracted in the Mediterranean Sea.
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