Egypt, Iraq deepen defense ties

Egypt and Iraq are expanding defense industry ties in a sign of deepening engagement among Cairo, Baghdad and Amman.

al-monitor Egyptian soldiers stand guard during an organized tour for diplomats to mark the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of the Suez Canal, in the northeastern city of Ismailia on Nov. 17, 2019.  Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images.

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egyptian economy, iraqi economy, defense policy, defense industry, military cooperation, egypt-iraq relations

Dec 17, 2020

CAIRO — Egypt is working to enhance its cooperation and relations with Iraq, notably in the military field.

During a Dec. 10 meeting with Iraqi Minister of Industry and Minerals Manhal Aziz Mahmoud in Cairo, Egyptian Minister of State for Military Production Mohamed Ahmed Morsi announced his country’s readiness to develop Iraq's defense industry and establish complete production lines in Iraq.

According to a Dec. 10 statement released after the meeting by the ministry, the Iraqi side agreed on mutual visits by technical delegations from both countries to discuss the production of weapons and ammunition.

On Dec. 9, an Iraqi delegation headed by Iraq’s Minister of Planning Khalid Batal Najim signed a number of agreements in the economic, agricultural and military industry fields during a visit to Cairo. 

During his Nov. 26 meeting with Iraqi Defense Minister Juma Inad Saadoun, who was visiting Cairo, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed that his “country is keen on cooperating with Iraq in all fields, mainly the military.”

Sisi emphasized Egypt’s interest in “military cooperation with Iraq to support the country in overcoming all the challenges it faces and help it strengthen its national institutions and maintain its security and stability.”

On Nov. 29, Saadoun visited several military factories in Egypt, most notably the tank production and mantenance facility called Factory 200 in Helwan and a facility in Qalyubia called Factory 300.

Egypt’s minister of military production, who accompanied Saadoun in his visit to production factories, also stressed his country’s “interest in cooperating with the Iraqi Defense Ministry and in strengthening the strategic partnership between [Egyptian] military production companies and Iraqi companies.”

He added, “Egypt discussed with the Iraqi side the possibility of cooperation to revamp Iraqi factories in a bid to boost the efficiency of production lines as well as supplying Iraq with requirements and equipment for military production.”

Saadoun expressed Iraq’s aspiration to strengthen cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Military Production in the defense industry.

The senior Iraqi official also visited the Egypt-based Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI), where he met with head Lt. Gen. Abdel Moneim el-Terras and discussed cooperation between Baghdad and Cairo in the defense and security industries and ways to strengthen these ties.

Terras stressed the “importance of technical training of Iraqi staff in the AOI centers in Egypt.”

Saadoun said that his country is "looking forward to the OAI participation in the projects currently underway in Iraq, mainly in the field of defense industries and armored vehicles.”

On Nov. 27, Egyptian Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Muhammad Zaki and his Iraqi counterpart discussed ways to support military cooperation between Egypt and Iraq.

On Dec. 11, Egypt’s Ministry of Industry Nevine Gamea announced that an Egyptian ministerial delegation will visit Iraq to discuss ways to boost cooperation between the two countries and support Iraq’s economy and industry.

Maj. Gen. Gamal Mazloum, a military adviser at Nasser Military Academy, told Al-Monitor, “Iraq has confidence in Egypt’s intentions toward it. Cairo does not covet Iraq’s wealth and riches. Military cooperation is based on mutual trust.”

“Aspects of military cooperation between Iraq and Egypt included training for Iraqi military officers, assisting the Iraqi army in developing defense industries and manufacturing Iraqi-made weapons,” Mazloum explained.

Nar Salem, another adviser at the Nasser Military Academy, told Al-Monitor, “Since Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took office, Iraq has been seeking to consolidate relations with Arab [countries]” adding, “Egypt benefited from Iraq’s desire for rapprochement with Arab countries and has concluded several agreements with Baghdad.”

On Oct. 31, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly visited Iraq and concluded 15 memoranda of understanding and a program of cooperation with Iraq in various fields, including transportation, water resources, health, environment, justice, investment, housing, construction, industry, trade and finance.

tripartite summit was held in August in the Jordanian capital Amman between Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Kadhimi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II. In his speech, Sisi said his country was ready to provide expertise to Jordan and Iraq and to establish joint development projects that will directly benefit citizens. He went on to stress the need to boost political and security cooperation between the three countries to fight terrorism. 

“Egypt will also cooperate with Iraq in the field of combatting terrorism, especially since the country suffers from the proliferation of Iran-backed armed groups. There will also be cooperation in the defense industry,” he added.

Salem stressed that military cooperation will benefit Egypt by opening a new Arab market for Egyptian weapons.

“Egyptian weapons are suited to Arab armies. … Therefore, Iraq seeks Egyptian-made weapons. The upcoming period might witness joint military exercises and drills between the armies of the two countries to consolidate military relations,” Salem explained.

Iraqi Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul said in a press statement Dec. 12, “Egypt supports Iraqi in its war against terrorist organizations on the basis of one Arab nation, and it seeks to rebuild [Iraq] and its infrastructure to fix the destruction left behind by terrorism.”

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