Egypt and Turkey compete to gain a military foothold in Kenya

CAIRO – On December 9, Lieutenant-General Abdel Moneim Al-Terras, President of the Egyptian Arab Organization for Industrialization, has received a Kenyan delegation, headed by Major General Carlos Kahariri, director of the Kenya National Defense College.

For the first time, the two sides agreed to locate Egyptian arms industry technology in Kenya and support the local Kenyan industry at the military and civilian levels. Terras said that the organization will put all its expertise, human and technological capacities in cooperation and partnership with Kenya.

Egypt’s cooperation efforts with Kenya are not limited to the military. On December 5, Alaa al-Wakeel, head of the Africa Committee and member of the Board of Directors of the Food Industries Export Council, noted at a press conference, the council is organizing a trade mission to kenya in january.

Major General Mohamed al-Zallat, head of the Industrial Development Authority, said Egypt was seeking to strengthen industrial cooperation with Kenya and develop economic ties between the two countries.

These Egyptian measures follow similar Turkish efforts to improve relations with Kenya.

On June 4, the Turkish company Qatamercilar for Defense Industries announcement an agreement to export 118 armored four-wheel drive vehicles to Kenya, making Kenya the third African country to import Turkish armored vehicles.

Major General Nasr Salem, former head of the armed forces reconnaissance apparatus and adviser to the Nasser Military Academy, told Al-Monitor that Egypt recently decided to support the production and export of arms abroad and to market its defense products through EDEX 2021. A new trend for Egypt in recent years, he said, with the aim of entering African arms markets.

Salem added that Turkey’s success in selling drones and armored vehicles to African countries prompted Egypt to follow suit. Ankara’s objective of establishing itself militarily and economically in the Horn of Africa threatens Egyptian national security, given the paramount importance of this area for stability and navigation in the Suez Canal.

On August 18, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sign an agreement with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for cooperation in the military sector between the two countries, and on October 17, an official Turkish source told Reuters that Morocco and Ethiopia had submitted official requests to Turkey to purchase Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones. On July 30, Sheikh Muhammad Akhtar, director of the Kenyan Islamic Endowment, Express full support for Turkey, the Turkish people and Erdogan.

Salem believes that Egypt’s entry into the Kenyan arms market will help oust Turkish influence and gain Kenyan support in the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) crisis. On November 27, the Ethiopian Minister of Water and Energy Habtamu Itefa noted GERD construction work continues, according to the plan established to generate electricity as soon as possible, despite the fact that negotiations have been suspended between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia for months.

Kenya is also seen as the United States’ traditional ally in the Horn of Africa, especially as Ethiopia now needs to rebuild after the war. Therefore, winning Kenya means further rapprochement with Washington for Egypt. On October 12, US President Joe Biden received his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta at the White House.

Major General Ahmed al-Awadi, head of the Egyptian parliament’s defense committee, told Al-Monitor that unprecedented Egyptian-Kenyan cooperation is part of Cairo’s strategy “to support his brothers on the African continent and countries of the Nile basin “.

Awadi said Egypt’s efforts to forge stronger ties with African countries in general, and not just Kenya, are evident through the recently concluded military agreement with several African states.

On March 2, Egypt and Sudan sign a military cooperation agreement, following the visit of the Egyptian army chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Mohamed Farid, to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

On April 8, Egypt and Uganda sign a military intelligence cooperation agreement to exchange information at the Ugandan intelligence headquarters in the capital, Kampala. And on April 10, Egypt too sign a military cooperation agreement with Burundi.

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