Egypt signs military deal with Kenya amid escalating tensions with Ethiopia by Muhammed Magdy
Egypt continues to strengthen its security relations with the countries of the Nile Basin, most recently with Kenya, with no end in sight of the crisis with Ethiopia over its Nile dam.

CAIRO — Kenya’s Minister of Defense Monica Juma announced May 26 the signing of a military cooperation agreement with Egypt, during a meeting with a high-ranking Egyptian military delegation headed by Chief-of-Staff Gen. Mohamed Farid in Nairobi.

The Egyptian army confirmed the agreement in a May 30 statement, noting the Farid had met with his Kenyan counterpart Robert Kibochi, with whom he co-chaired the closing session of the Egyptian-Kenyan Military Committee’s meeting in Nairobi. Farid then traveled to Rwanda for further discussions on regional security.

The Kenyan Ministry of Defense said that the agreement aims at “deepening partnership [between the two countries] in matters of mutual benefit.”

This is the fourth agreement that Egypt signs with countries in the Nile Basin region in 2021 alone. It signed a defense agreement with Sudan in March, one in April with Uganda on exchanging military intelligence information, and another in April with Burundi.

Abbas Sharaqi, professor of natural resources at Cairo University, told Al-Monitor that these agreements reflect Egypt’s efforts to bolster its security relations with the “ring countries” around Ethiopia to protect its water interests in the Nile Basin region.

In a May 28 lecture at the National Defense College in Kenya, during a training course on how armies respond to risks and threats — in the presence of delegations from nine countries, including Egypt’s — Juma said that the national security environment is evolving and unpredictable. “Importantly, the cohort [training course] included course participants from nine allied countries. We will continue to strengthen these invaluable relations,” she added.

The pace of cooperation between Egypt and Kenya has grown in recent years. The two countries held a round of political consultations April 12, followed April 19 by a visit by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to Nairobi to discuss the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), in addition to cooperation in the fields of health, agriculture and livestock.

Maj. Gen. Yahya Kadwani, a member of the Defense and National Security Committee at the Egyptian parliament, told Al-Monitor that since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi assumed power, he has been successfully trying to restore relations with African countries, just as they were during the era of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian leader who united the African peoples seeking peace and freedom. Read more