On January 15, 2020, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in the presence of representatives of foreign delegations, in particular the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, opened the Berenice military base.
By some estimates, it is the largest military facility in the Middle East and Africa and the largest military base in the Red Sea.
The new base is located near the city of Aswan, Egypt’s largest port on the Nile River in the border with Sudan. The area of the object is 150 thousand acres, and it is compared in size with the State of Qatar (this is hyperbolization, since in reality Qatar is 2 859 million acres, but the message of Egyptian propaganda in favor of the UAE is clear here).
According to Jane’s agency, on the territory of the ARE Armed Forces new facility, there is a naval base, an air base with 18 warehouse-hangars for fighter aircraft, a military hospital, ground combat and administrative units, training ranges for firing all types of weapons available in the arsenals of the Egyptian army.
It has its own desalination plant with a capacity of 34 thousand cubic meters / day. There is also a civilian airport nearby (capacity - 600 passengers / hour). All bases are connected by access roads with a length of 40 km.
Strategically, the military point will perform a number of tasks:
1. Defense of the southern borders of Egypt from any threats. In this context, we are talking about containing Ethiopia, which is building the Great Dam of the Renaissance in the upper Nile. Although Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, through Washington’s mediation, reached preliminary agreements on the Khedashi reservoir on the Blue Nile on January 17 this year, tensions remain between Egypt and Ethiopia. In particular, Cairo is completely unwilling to establish an Ethiopian military base in the Red Sea, which may appear in Djibouti.
2. Cairo clearly sends a signal to Turkey that it does not like the excessive military activity in the Horn of Africa. Especially the deployment or plans for the deployment of Turkish military in Somalia and Sudan.
3. After Iranian provocations with ships in Persian Gulf in 2019, Egypt will protect the safety of shipping in the Red Sea, especially the Suez Canal. The base is an important element in containing Iran’s expansion in the region. A military force will from it will be directed on Yemen to restrain the activities of pro-Iranian forces.
Also, the Berenice base can deploy part of the US troops (which will be gradually withdrawn from Iraq) so that they do not leave the region and have the ability to quickly reach the desired borders.
4. The Berenice base will strengthen the coordination of the UAE and Egypt in the Red Sea region, because the emirates already have a number of new military bases in Eritrea and Somaliland, as well as on the Yemeni island of Socotra.