These are revelations which come to raise a little the thick leaden cover posed on the military cooperation between France and Egypt and give an idea of the possible drifts of a relation considered as strategic by the two countries.
According to information published Sunday, November 21 by the media Disclose, a clandestine aerial reconnaissance mission of French military intelligence, initially planned to contribute to the fight against terrorism in the border region between Libya and Egypt, would in reality have been diverted from its goal. And this, by indirectly allowing the Egyptian authorities, between 2016 and 2019, to carry out a number of strikes against ordinary networks of arms, drug traffickers or migrants, and therefore cause deaths. « Civilians », according to Disclose.
According to the online media, which is based on several documents classified defense secret mainly from the military intelligence department (DRM), this mission called « Sirli » was put on track on July 25, 2015, during ‘a meeting in Cairo between the then defense ministers of the two states: Jean-Yves Le Drian for France and Sedki Sobhi on the Egyptian side. It was then a question of securing the border between Egypt and Libya while the latter was in chaos, four years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. The world could not verify this information from an independent source but, in France, the Ministry of the Armed Forces has not since disputed its veracity.
According to these documents, it was in February 2016 that a French team was sent to the Egyptian desert, in an area stretching from the Nile to the Libyan border. The team operates mainly from the Egyptian military base in Marsa Matruh and is made up of ten French agents – four soldiers and six former army personnel who have been converted to civilian life – as well as two pilots and four analysts. These are made available by a private Luxembourg company which has been used for several years to work with the French intelligence services. It is this company which also rents to the French army the equipment necessary for the mission: a light surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft (ALSR) of the Merlin III type, equipped with an optical sensor and a capacity of interception of intelligence of electromagnetic origin (radar and telecommunication transmitters).
Paris defends its strategic partnership with Cairo
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