Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of new NATO headquarters during the move to the new building, in Brussels, Belgium April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman
BRUSSELS – 11 July 2018: NATO will launch a program with Egypt in the coming days to enhance mutual security partnership in the framework of it cooperation with the MENA region regarding political consultations and building military capacity.
Sources in Brussels, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, did not reveal the details of the program, but they told Egypt Today on Tuesday that Paolo Alli, NATO Parliamentary Assembly President and Vice Chairman of the Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group opened a center last February in the Italian city of Napoli to exchange information with southern partners and recognize security needs, according to sources in Brussels.
The center serves as a reception for partners from MENA to reach a better understanding of the dynamics in the region and security challenges that face them.
“We enjoy great relations with Egypt and its foreign minister. This has helped Egypt purge the Western Desert, which is an area that requires a special treatment,” a NATO official said, commenting on a current, announced demining program between Cairo and NATO.
The first phase of the program to clear mines and explosive remnants of World War II from the Western Desert has been concluded. The phase used radar systems that can penetrate the earth and discover explosives at great depths.
The second phase will be launched soon, and it includes equipment that will allow safe use of the discovered mines. NATO has supported he project with $4 million to hire a company that designs equipment so pervasive. Field training for the Egyptians, who dealt directly with the mines on the ground, was also made available.
“We have given Egypt very advanced equipment. The mines are at different depths, so we needed specialized devices and hired a pioneering company in the field to build the equipment,” the official added.
Egypt has about 20 percent of the total number of landmines planted around the world with some 110 million landmines, in the eastern and western deserts. While explosives in the Eastern Desert were planted by Israel, the rest in the west were planted by the Axis forces, led by defeated German General Erwin Rommel.
Hence, thousands of people have lost their lives or limbs to the mines, and thousands of acres are deprived from development because of the danger beneath the sand.