Egypt counters Turkey with massive military exercises along Libyan border

As reported by The Nation, the Egyptian armed forces have redeployed an extensive array of various types of aircraft since January 13 in order to provide cover for Egyptian military personnel engaged in mustering 'show of power' since the Turkish activity in Libya has left Egyptian Government concerned with stability and security in the North African region and the Mediterranean sea.

Egypt counters Turkey with massive military exercises along Libyan border 01 Egyptian Air Force MiG-29M / M2 fighters (Picture source: Ministry of Defense of Egypt)

The military exercise has been named 'Qadir 2020'. Military spokesman Col. Tamer al-Rifai published an official statement stating that “the Egyptian air force has done this redeployment with the help of the Egyptian navy while carrying out their tasks to secure economic interests in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea operations.”

In the same statement, Rifai said the Western Military Region Command of the Egyptian army executed a number of extensive exercises and engaged in massive warfare training along the Libyan land and coastal borders in conjunction with the main branches of the armed and border guard forces. The Egyptian Military also carried out various tactical projects with live ammunition in order to secure the coasts, he added, stating that paratroopers conducted a number of training activities to increase preparedness in terms of defensive and offensive maneuvers.

Maj. Gen. Mohamed al-Shahawy, adviser to the army's Command and Staff College, told that the Egyptian army carried out the Qadir 2020 maneuver because the state is exposed for the first time to a very special type of threat very close to its western borders in light of the ongoing war and instability in neighboring Libya. Shahawy particularly emphasised that this comes initiative was decided after the Turkish parliament approved the deployment of military forces to Libya to support the Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez al-Sarraj in its war against Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Egypt.

The Turkish parliament on January 2 had approved a legislative decree to allow the deployment of Turkish military forces to Libya after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a memo to support the GNA in its war against Haftar, whose forces control eastern side of Libya. Subsequently, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs categorically issued an urgent statement on the same day, Jan. 2, in which it strongly condemned Turkish interference in Libyan internal affairs. According to Arab News, On January 28, Saudi cabinet unanimously decided that it will condemn any foreign intervention in North African country i.e., Libya. It also called on the international community to address these dangerous developments. According to a presidential statement, the National Security Council headed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met to discuss the Turkish military intervention in Libya and the threat of Egyptian interests on the western border. The National Security Council is made up of the president, the prime minister, head of General Intelligence, the parliament speaker, and the ministers of defense, interior and foreign affairs, along with other ministers. It specializes in facing disaster and crisis situations and identifying the sources of dangers to Egyptian national security and the necessary measures to address them.

Shahawy stated that Qadir 2020 maneuver is a “war training” project and includes wide-ranging military exercises executed by the armed forces, mainly at the Berenice Military Base south of the Red Sea, to send clear and unequivocal messages to the Turkish side, which intervened in Libya without having the right to do so, thus violating the rules of international law in this regard.

“Redeploying Egyptian aircraft across various air bases in coordination with the Egyptian air defense forces is primarily aimed at knowing the Egyptian army's operational ability on the ground. It also aims to raise full preparedness in the event of a war or a military strike in some areas, especially after the tension with Turkey and the complex security situation in Libya, as well as other terrorist acts that come from the Libyan surrounding and extremist groups on the western borders of Egypt,” Shahawy noted. He stressed that this maneuver also aims to secure the northern Egyptian border overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, especially the Zohr gas field and various other gas and oil sources.

Shahawy pointed out the special importance of Sisi’s participation in the Qadir 2020 opening ceremony and the clear indications of his presence as the highest-ranking official in Egypt to oversee these huge maneuvers, in which the Mistral helicopter carrier and a number of combat ships, submarines and attack helicopters in the air force are taking part.

Director of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies Brig. Khaled Okasha told that Qadir 2020 is the first maneuver for the Egyptian army in 2020. It was named "Qadir" (Arabic for "able") because it indicates the ability of the Egyptian army to repel any enemy and preserve the wealth of the Egyptian state. “The importance of this maneuver lies in thwarting off the threats on the western borders of Egypt after the Turkish parliament's decision to send military forces to Libya, which constitutes a threat to Egyptian national security,” Okasha said. In addition, Okasha noted, the advanced fourth-generation fighter Rafale and a number of naval frigates also took part in the maneuver, “whose main objective is to protect Egypt's national interests and send a direct message to Turkey that Egypt can protect itself well in times of crisis.” He said the Egyptian army announced for the first time the names of the new weapons, namely the Kamov aircraft and the multirole MiG-29, which are the latest models of attack aircraft joining the air forces and which have participated for the first time in this maneuver.

Egypt counters Turkey with massive military exercises along Libyan border 02 Egyptian Air Force MiG-29M / M2 fighters (Picture source: Ministry of Defense of Egypt)