02 Nov 2018

Forces from Egypt and 5 other nations to start ‘Arab Shield’ joint military exercise

CAIRO — Ground, air and naval units from five Arab nations are arriving in Egypt to join their Egyptian counterparts for war games, according to the  Egyptian military, in the first sign that a military alliance proposed by Washington for its Middle East partners may be gaining traction.

A military statement late Wednesday said forces from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan will take part in the Nov. 3-16 exercises codenamed “Arab Shield” and to be held in western Egypt. Lebanon and Morocco are taking part as observers.

The announcement came a little more than a month after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in New York with the foreign ministers from the six nations participating in this month’s war games plus those from Oman and Qatar to advance the idea of creating a Sunni alliance uniting America’s Middle East partners against Shiite and non-Arab Iran.

However, the Egyptian military statement made no link between the war games and the proposed alliance, which Egypt may be approaching with caution given its sectarian undertones.

Egypt, however, has become heavily dependent on financial assistance and investments from Gulf heavyweights like Saudi Arabia and the UAE and that might in turn influence its decision on whether to join the proposed alliance.