During December 2018, the military witnessed several developments, with respect to conducting changes among senior commanders and concluding armament contracts with international companies during the International Exhibition for Defense and Military Industries, EDEX 2018.
First: Continued changes in Egyptian Army leadership
General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ratified in December 2018 new leadership changes – usually conducted regularly on a bi-annual basis in June and December –including:
1- Dismissal of Al-Shahat from his post as head of Military Intelligence
The Egyptian Institute for Studies (EIS) reported on 5 October about “the sacking of the director of military intelligence, Major General Mohammad Farag al-Shahat, and the appointment of Maj. Gen. Khaled Megawer, the commander of second field army as the new military intelligence director,” EIS reported citing Adel Al-Adawi, director of the International Economic Forum in Egypt. These reports were confirmed in December 2018 when Khalid Majawer was officially appointed as director of the military intelligence succeeding Maj. Gen. Muhammad Farag al-Shahat, who was appointed as assistant to the defense minister. It is noteworthy that the reason for the dismissal of al-Shahat was reportedly a personal and family dispute between him and Sisi.
The new director of the military intelligence, Maj. General of Staff Khalid Megawer was chief of staff of the Second Field Army and then took command of the Second Field Army in the period from May 2017 to September 2018, and in September 2018, he was appointed as deputy director of the military intelligence. Megawer served as the Egyptian military attache in Washington for some time.
2- More changes in the army leadership including:
|1||Major General Staff Salah al-Din Helmi||He was dismissed from the post of head of the Supply and Logistics Authority and appointed as assistant to the Minister of Defense.
|2||Major General Staff Bassem Riyad||He was replaced by Major General Staff Ayman Tobruk as commander of the border guards
|3||Major General Staff Gamal Ismail||He was replaced by Maj. General Staff Ashraf Fares as director of the military academy.
|4||Major General Staff Sharif Bishara||He was transferred from his post as commander of the Western Military Zone and appointed as director of the Nasser Military Academy. Major General Salah Saraya was appointed as new commander of the Western Military Zone.
|5||Major General Staff Mahmoud Al-Aidarous||He was removed from his post as commander of of the Egyptian Airborne Forces and appointed as commander of the military police. Maj. General Staff Mehrez Abdel Wahab was appointed as new commander of the Egyptian Airborne Forces.|
|6||Major General Staff Ahmed Al-Qamhawi||He was replaced from his post as director of Signal Corps by Major General Ashraf Farid|
|7||Major General Staff Abdel Nasser||After Maj. General Staff Ashraf Fares was appointed as director of director of the military academy, Maj. General Staff Abdel Nasser succeeded him as commander of the Artillery Corps.|
|8||Major General Staff Ashraf Atwa||He has been appointed as Chief of Staff of the Navy|
The policy that Sisi seems to have adopted is keenness on conducting changes in senior positions of the Egyptian army, contrary to the policy that was adopted by former President Hosni Mubarak in maintaining stability in the military institution by keeping the military leaders in office for a long time.
It also seems that Sisi’s policy of not keeping army commanders in office for a long period of time is aimed at preventing their likely influence that may affect his rule in the future. Accordingly, Sisi does not keep a military commander in office for more than two years.
From the early moments of his rule, Sisi worked to transfer power from the hands of the military institution to his own hands, or from the “rule of the institution” to consolidating his “autocratic” rule. This may explain Sisi’s successive changes in the ranks of senior leaders. However, Sisi is also keen on pleasing ex-commanders who had been dismissed from service or transferred to administrative positions within the Egyptian army. On Tuesday, July 3, 2018, members of the Egyptian House of Representatives (parliament) approved the articles of the “Law on Treatment of Some Senior Armed Forces Commanders”, which Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, being the supreme commander of the armed forces, referred to parliament for ratification. This law gives military commanders unprecedented privileges, including immunity.
The Egyptian armed forces signed several arms contracts and memorandums of understanding with international companies during the International Exhibition for Defence and Military Industries, EDEX 2018, according to the military spokesperson’s Tamer El-Rafaie on Wednesday, Dec. 5. These contracts and memorandums of understanding included the following:
– A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed to establish a joint company between a French naval defence company, Naval Group, and an Egyptian Marine Industries and Services Organisation (MIASO) to provide maintenance and technical support for all French naval units operating in the Egyptian army.
– The Egyptian Naval Forces (ENF) signed another MoU with a French company specialized in joint manufacturing.
– Other French companies, Thales Group and ACTIA, signed with Egypt a two-part deal to supply equipment for Egyptian satellite ground stations.
– Commander of Egyptian air forces, Mohamed Abbas, signed an agreement with French Dassault Aviation to provide technical support and spare parts for Rafale jet fighters recently purchased by Egypt, to ensure their technical validation.
– Abbas also signed an agreement to purchase drones from China’s National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC).
– Another agreement was signed with Italy’s Leonardo company to supply advanced radars for the Egyptian air defense forces.
– Among the agreements, there was one signed with the Portuguese EID, part of the UK-based independent technology group Cohort, to supply an internal communication system.
– Another deal with made with the Bulgarian company, Samel-90, to supply and develop electronic jamming stations in Egypt.