Sinai 2018 naval drills ensure Egypt’s security: experts

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Tue, 13 Feb 2018 - 03:20 GMT

Egyptian Comprehensive Security Operation_ Sinai 2018_ launched on Feb 9, 2018- Press Photo

Egyptian Comprehensive Security Operation_ Sinai 2018_ launched on Feb 9, 2018- Press Photo

CAIRO – 13 February 2018: Egypt’s naval forces have launched four ground-to-sea and surface-to-sea rockets in the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday, continuing the comprehensive security operation dubbed Sinai 2018 that began Friday. These naval drills are deemed a strategic message to address potential threats to Egypt’s regional waters.

On the fifth consecutive day of the full-scale security operation, the naval forces continue to tighten their grip along the coastal area, according to the armed forces’ statement no. 6 released on Tuesday.
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Egyptian Comprehensive Security Operation_ Sinai 2018_ launched on Feb 9, 2018- Press Photo


Sinai 2018 naval drills deemed deterrent messages

Military expert Major-General Adel El-Omda stressed that the recent naval drills using live ammunition are considered as a “direct deterrent to whoever seeks to breach the Egyptian rights in regional waters.”

“The Sinai 2018 operation carries various strategic dimensions…The Egyptian naval forces’ drills prove our sophisticated readiness that our forces are enjoying,” Omda told Egypt Today on Tuesday.

He added that Egypt’s economic interests in regional waters are completely secured, revealing that Egyptian military deals have been concluded according to potential threats and aggressions expected to occur in the near and far future.
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Egyptian Comprehensive Security Operation_ Sinai 2018_ launched on Feb 9, 2018- Press Photo


Egypt is capable of securing Red Sea and Mediterranean waters

“The military statement released on Tuesday referring to launching four rockets has given a strong message that Egypt will not hesitate to use live ammunition against violations that may threaten Egypt’s sovereignty, land, airspace and waters,” Major-General Hisham al-Halaby told Egypt Today.

Halaby, a consultant at Nasser Military Academy, added that the armed forces’ sixth statement affirmed that Egypt’s naval forces “are capable of carrying out their divine task to protect the sovereignty of Egyptian waters.
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Egyptian Comprehensive Security Operation_ Sinai 2018_ launched on Feb 9, 2018- Press Photo


Navy continues tightening its grip along the coastal area

"As part of the comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018 carried out by elements of the armed forces, in cooperation with the combat units of the Interior Ministry, anti-terror units continue launching raids targeting terrorist hideouts and arms and ammunition warehouses in North and Central Sinai," the armed forces’ statement no. 6 read.

On the fourth consecutive day of Sinai 2018, the Egyptian military and security forces destroyed 30 hideouts used by militants to carry out their attacks against military and police personnel as well as civilians, destroyed 60 targets, killed 12 terrorists following exchange of fire, arrested 92 criminals and seized 20 vehicles that terrorists used in carrying out terror acts, according to the fifth statement released by the Egyptian armed forces on Monday.

Egypt launched the large-scale security operation early Friday morning, involving land, sea and air forces, in various areas across Egypt, including North Sinai, the Western Desert and the Nile Delta region. “The comprehensive security operation Sinai 2018 is targeting terrorist and criminal elements and organizations,” said army spokesman Col. Tamer el-Refai in a televised statement (no. 1) on Friday.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi authorized the army chief of staff to use “all brute force” against terrorism, and he gave security forces a three-month deadline to restore stability to North Sinai.

Refai said in video statement (no. 2) on Friday that the targeted hotbeds were used by the extremists to target law enforcement soldiers, as well as civilians, in North and Central Sinai. Moreover, security authorities are also tightening navy and land border security to cut off supply lines for terrorist elements.

Egypt-Cyprus Maritime Demarcation

On February 5, Turkish Foreign Minister Mouloud Jawish Oglu said during an interview with the Greek newspaper Kathimerini that Turkey does not recognize the 2013 Maritime Demarcation Agreement to demarcate the maritime boarder between Egypt and Cyprus to benefit from natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

In this regard, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry replied that any attempt to harm Egypt’s sovereignty is rejected and will be addressed, and no party can dispute the legality of the Maritime Demarcation Agreement between Egypt and Cyprus.

“No party can dispute the legality of the Maritime Demarcation Agreement between Egypt and Cyprus, as it is consistent with the international law, and it has been deposited with the U.N. International Agreement,” stressed Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid.

Jawish Oglu further explained during the interview that Turkey has set plans to look for oil and natural gas in the region, which would mean that Turkey violates the Maritime Demarcation Agreement between Egypt and Cyprus. However, he claims that the agreement does not have any validity.

He added that his country has submitted a request to reject the agreement, claiming that it violates the Turkish continental shelf, and no foreign country, party, company or ship can conduct illegal scientific research or excavate oil and natural gas in this region.

Signing maritime agreements with several countries has allowed Egypt to search for and discover oil and gas wells in the Red and Mediterranean seas, including the Zohr natural gas field.

“Maritime border delimitation has contributed in achieving the Zohr field project,” said President Sisi during the inauguration ceremony of the Zohr natural gas field on January 31.

Egyptian-Greek-Cypriot tripartite summit in November 2017

Since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Turkey has interfered in Egypt’s internal affairs, which has caused several diplomatic and political disputes between Cairo and Ankara.

To avoid such conflicts in the Mediterranean region, Egypt has sought to hold negotiations with Cyprus and Greece over maritime borders, and to promote Egyptian relations with Cyprus and Greece as Turkey and Israel attempt to take control of gas wells in the Mediterranean.

Consequently, one of the bilateral agreements signed between Egypt and Cyprus was the 2003 Delimitation of Maritime Borders Agreement, followed by the 2006 framework agreement.

Also, in 2012, a cooperation agreement between the two countries was signed to explore for gas in the Mediterranean on the Egyptian-Cypriot borders, as the region is rich in natural gas.

Several meetings have been held between Egypt, Cyprus and Greece, and the most recent one is the fifth Egyptian-Greek-Cypriot tripartite summit, which took place in November 2017. During the summit, several topics were tackled, including coordination between the three countries, as well as enhancing relations in the political, economic, trade, security and tourism fields.

However, Jawish Oglu declared that the outcome of the tripartite meeting is not recognized by Turkey.

The first tripartite summit between Egypt, Greece and Cyprus was held for the first time in Cairo in 2014, and then in Nicosia in April 2015. The third summit was held in Athens and the fourth was in Cairo in 2016.


Additional reporting by Marina Gamil

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