UK, Egypt seek to strengthen military cooperation

UK, Egypt seek to strengthen military cooperation
The chief of military staff in Egypt visited his UK counterpart last week to discuss further military cooperation.
2 min read
21 September, 2015
Hegazy visits Buckingham Palace [UK embassy in Cairo]
Last week General Sir Nicholas Houghton, Chief of Defence Staff for the UK Armed Forces, hosted his Egyptian counterpart Lieutenant General Mahmoud Hegazy on a four-day visit to the UK, according to a statement by the British Foreign Office. 

John Casson, the UK ambassador to Egypt, emphasised the shared goals of the two countries.

"Our countries face same threat from Islamic State terrorism and the extremism that feeds it," he said on a statement on twitter.

"The UK will not leave Egypt to stand alone against it [terrorism], in Sinai, Libya or elsewhere."

Egypt has recently seen increasing instability in the Northern region of the Sinai Penninsula. 

General Hegazy was previously head of military intelligence before becoming Chief of military staff under Abdel Fattah-el Sisi.  

In leaked audio recording of Sisi and Hegazy in May, the general agreed that potential collaboration with deposed Libyan dictator Gaddafi's cousin could "open doors" for Egypt.

Following the recent visit, Casson said that the partnership between Egypt and the UK was "not limited to security measures.  We must also expand our work to confront the long-term political, economic and ideological challenges that lie behind the crisis in the region."

The visit also provided an opportunity for General Hegazy to visit Longmoor military training camp, where 15 Egyptian officers are currently receiving "close protection training" from British army experts.

General Hegazy is extremely close to the Alaa Fatah el-Sisi with his daughter married to the President's son.

Hegazy was part of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who governed during the Egyptian military transition period following the Egyptian revolution. In the aftermath of the Maspiro massacre, where the military killed around 28 Christian protesters, he denied the army had ever opened fire.

Amid a diplomatic drive to boost ties with Cairo, the British government in the first three months of 2015 sanctioned arms sales to Egypt's autocratic regime worth 48.8 million pounds ($76.3 million). The increase in arm sales have come as General Sisi took power in summer 2013.

Last week, an Egyptian delegation also had a place at the Defence and Security Equipment International Exhibition (DSEI). The country did not receive an invitation at the last event held in 2013.

Egypt has recently come under fire for "accidentally" killing eight Mexican tourists after mistaking them for Islamist militants.