This new facility, called July 3rd, "will deal with any threat coming from west of the border"

Egypt opens military base near the Libyan border

PHOTO/REUTERS - Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi will inaugurate the "3rd of July" military base in the western region of Jarjoub on Saturday. The facility, located in the city of Al-Nujaila, features "an integrated military range that forms a launching base to protect the capabilities of the Egyptian nation along the northern and western strategic directions," according to an Egyptian government video. The new base is part of Egypt's navy development plan and is in addition to the Mohammed Naguib military centre, also close to the Libyan border. The 3 July facility is intended to protect the country's economic interests as well as secure its land border. It will also be the site of the Qadir 2021 military actions, a series of Egyptian army training exercises.

Bassam Rady, presidential spokesman, added in a statement that the base will also fight smuggling and illegal immigration.

Al-Sisi will be accompanied by political figures from different Arab countries and, due to the proximity of the military base to Libya, some Libyan media reported that Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army; Aguilah Saleh Issa, president of the Parliament; and Mohammed Menfi, president of the Presidential Council, may also attend.

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Egypt has supported Haftar during the Libyan conflict, as has Russia and the United Arab Emirates. On the other hand, countries such as Turkey and Qatar supported Fayez al-Sarraj's Government of National Accord (GNA), before the establishment of the new transitional government of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeiba, which will govern the country until the next elections on 24 December. "The absence of Abdul Hamid Dbeiba, the prime minister of the National Unity Government, from the inauguration ceremony would confirm that Cairo has reservations about his political positions, especially his implicit support for continued Turkish interference in the country," Egyptian sources told The Arab Weekly. 

The name of the base sends a clear message to the Muslim Brotherhood organisation. The date 3 July is linked to the eighth anniversary of the ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Brotherhood. The Islamist entity is one of the main enemies of the Al-Sisi government. The Muslim Brotherhood has also maintained ties with Turkey, so Cairo also intends to issue a warning to Erdogan.

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Ankara has recently declared that it will maintain its military presence in Libya despite international pressure. An Egyptian military official explained to The Arab Weekly that this new base 'will deal with any threat coming mainly from west of the border'. A threat that could have orders from Turkey.

Egypt has recently established other strategic bases, such as 'Bernice', located in the Red Sea near the border with Sudan. Bernice is responsible for securing navigation of the Suez Canal and the Bab al-Mandab Strait. However, Egypt's military expansion has caused tensions with Ethiopia, which is also setting up military facilities. The two countries are also in dispute with Sudan over the Grand Renaissance Dam.