Dr. Sayed Ghoneim, PhD in Political Science – Chairman, IGSDA
For several decades, the Egyptian role was confined toward its international borders, which wasted opportunities for strong Egyptian influence in Africa, especially the countries of the Nile Basin and the Horn of Africa; this severely affected the Egyptian interests and increased threats against it.
Egypt is the downstream country of the Nile River and it’s one of the countries that signed the Nile Basin Agreement. Egypt is currently signing a series of defense agreements with the Nile Basin countries, namely Sudan, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya.
Egypt is also a member of the Council of Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which I think also facilitates for Egypt the possibility of signing security, defense and coastal protection agreements with the Council’s member states, especially those overlooking the Red Sea, including Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia in the Horn of Africa, as well as Sudan, which has already signed with them. We may take into account that Djibouti, the smallest country in Africa, has the largest size of foreign military bases, which are the US, France, Italy, Japan, China, Germany and Spain. They’re all militarily allies except China, while Japan is the most important military ally of the US.
Egypt’s signing of security and defense agreements with the Nile Basin countries and the African countries overlooking the Red Sea supports Egypt’s goal of securing Bab al-Mandab Strait and the Red Sea as a southern strategic depth that fulfills one of the most important requirements of Egyptian national security.
Based on all of the above, signing these mentioned agreements with East African countries, gives the Egyptian armed forces the required flexibility and ability to move and present in the Horn of Africa, which on the one hand attracts the major competing powers in East Africa for larger diplomatic, economic and military coordination with Egypt; this support securing the most important international shipping route of navigation, which possesses more than a third of the navigation movement in the world and revives the region’s economy. On the other hand, it represents a challenge to the countries compete with Egypt in the region or takes a position against it, namely Ethiopia, Turkey and Qatar, In the Horn of Africa; UAE increased relation with Ethiopia has also included UAE as a separate competitor to Egypt in this region.
Hence, Egypt’s signing of security, economic and defense agreements with Djibouti, Eritrea, and Somalia will grant Egypt weight and contribution to the African countries, and thus have greater influence in the Horn of Africa.