A new military base ‘to secure the Suez Canal’

The Egyptian regime intends to build a new military base on the country’s eastern border to secure the Suez Canal. This military base will be the third of its kind in General AbdelFattah al-Sisi’s era, despite the economic decline and deteriorating living conditions. The new base will be located in the Ismailia Governorate’s Abu Sultan, and will be built in an area of 160,000 acres, according to The New Khalij. “The new base will secure the canal’s shipment activity, tunnels, as well as its economic zone,” the sources noted. The sources did not provide any details about either the opening date or the construction cost.

Al-Sisi has spent a large amount of money on buying weapons and building military bases, despite the weak economy. There are another two new military bases in Egypt, including Mohamed Naguib at the country’s northwestern border and Bernice in the south. The Egyptian army ranked ninth in the world in the classification of global fire-power for the year 2020, jumping up three places from the previous year when it ranked twelfth. Bernice – built on the Red Sea coast encompassing a naval base, airbase, and a military hospital – was inaugurated last month in a ceremony attended by the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed.

According to military sources, the Egyptian regime is building three new naval bases in strategic locations along the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. The Egyptian regime’s spending on the military has many purposes. For example, Cairo is preparing for major military cooperation with Rome. The Egyptian navy is planning to purchase a pair of multi-functional warships worth €2.4 billion ($2.6 billion) from the Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri. It is believed that this deal is part of Cairo’s undeclared efforts to bury the Giulio Regeni case. The Italian attorney general had already accused five Egyptian police officers of disappearing, torturing and murdering the Cambridge University PhD student. In addition to burying regime crimes, military spending also aims to strengthen the Egyptian army to increase its capabilities to suppress any popular uprisings or expected revolutions.

During the past week, al-Sisi visited the 300 military factory of Abu Zabal Industries which specialises in ammunition for small and medium weapons and shells, and reviewed a number of weapons, including the armoured Sinai 200, which sparked controversy among activists. Whilst the regime says this vehicle is Egyptian made, activists say the armoured vehicle is an American armoured vehicle M 113 with simple modifications, including a machine gun on the armoured tower, and the addition of an iron fence surrounding the armoured vehicle. Observers consider that these additions were made to make the armoured vehicle ready for street and city war as a prelude to suppress any opposition demonstrations or popular uprisings, as the iron fence surrounding the armoured vehicle is not considered a war shield against shells, but rather a fence to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the armoured vehicle.

Military experts point out that the majority of this spending has geopolitical factors related to the Egyptian regime’s desire to restore regional influence, which diminished during the past two decades due to the economic situation in favour of other powers in the region such as Turkey and Iran. Opponents have criticised the regime’s escalating spending on military purposes during the state of economic decline and deteriorating living conditions, confirming that it is not in Egyptian people’s favour, but in the regime’s interests.