Egypt sending message to Turkey with naval exercise near Libya - analyst

Egypt’s naval exercise last week near its border with Libya was a message to Turkey over its growing ambitions in the Eastern Mediterranean, wrote Middle East analyst Seth J. Franzman in the Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

The drill dubbed “Hasam-20” featured various naval vessels firing off RGM-48 anti-ship missiles, said the JP op-ed editor, who cited videos of the event shared online by Egyptians.

Some online commentators claimed one of the missile launches appeared to have failed, Franzman added. A highlight from the footage showed an AN/TWQ-1 Avenger anti-aircraft system fired from a Humvee anchored to the deck of a Mistral-class amphibious assault ship. It is common practice by naval forces to mount missile systems straight onto the ship.

Egypt has been boosting its naval presence in response to recent regional activities by Turkey, which has been boasting its own homemade additions to its navy firepower, Franzman said.

Turkey has played an increasingly active role in the maritime region, resulting in conflicts of interest and subsequent hostility with other nearby countries.

Turkey has provided substantial military support for Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in a conflict against a foe backed by Egypt and other countries. Ankara and the GNA signed a maritime border agreement intended to legitimise Turkey’s claims to abundant offshore gas and oil reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean, much to the ire of Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and other nations in a conglomerate collaborating on a drilling project of their own off the Cypriot coast.

Turkey is also pursuing what it calls its Blue Homeland naval expansion doctrine, which lays claim to wide-ranging territorial waters in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Seas.

Franzman called the disputes some of the “largest naval tensions” in the Eastern Mediterranean in decades.

“Egypt’s naval drill is emblematic of how Turkey’s increased posturing will result in other countries seeking to show off and up their naval power,” he wrote.