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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Qatar attends opening of Egypt’s new ‘strategic’ naval base

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The newly-launched base is located towards the border of Libya, around 255km west of Alexandria.

Qatar participated in the inauguration ceremony of the new Egyptian “July 3 Naval Base”  in the Gargoub area on the northwest coast of Egypt on Saturday, authorities announced.

The Gulf country was represented by the Commander of the Amiri Naval Forces Major General Abdullah bin Hassan Al Sulaiti, as both countries work on strengthening their diplomatic ties.

Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the chairman of Libya’s Presidential Council Mohamed Al-Menfi also attended the ceremony.

The base – located 135 km from the border with Libya – was inaugurated by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and aims to “protect strategic and economic interests.”

It is also set to guard against irregular migration and enhancing naval presence in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

“It is the latest Egyptian military base on the Mediterranean, and will be focused on securing the country’s northern and western front,” the Egyptian presidency said in a statement on Saturday.

The newly launched Egyptian base is spread over 10sq km and has a 1,000-metre naval quay with a water depth of 14 metres.

Its name, July 3 base, marks the day the Egyptian president overthrew the country’s first ever democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 – two years after the Egyptian revolution.

Resumption of diplomatic ties

The move comes just weeks aftr Egypt’s president appointed a new ambassador to Qatar, the first such major move since Cairo severed its ties with the Gulf state in 2017.

Amr El-Sherbiny was appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the State of Qatar.

That decision followed Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s visit to Doha in June, in which he delivered a letter from President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, inviting him to visit Egypt.

The appointment of the new Egyptian ambassador came only a few days after Qatar received a new Saudi ambassador to the Gulf country.

Warming relations

Cairo withdrew its ambassador from Doha on 5 June 2017, immediately after a Gulf crisis saw the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and impose an illegal air, land and sea blockade.

Since the announcement of the Gulf reconciliation during the 41st GCC Summit, Egypt and Qatar have continued to move towards strengthening relations that have faced strain in the past three years.

Ties have appeared to develop over the past two months, especially since the two countries joined forces to push for a ceasefire in Gaza that brought to an end a deadly 11-day Israeli offensive in Gaza.

A May visit by Qatar’s foreign minister to Cairo also resulted in a mutual agreement to develop relations between the two states while further cooperating to resolve regional challenges.

Sheikh Tamim also took the initiative to invite Egypt’s Sisi to visit Qatar, which would be his first visit since 2017.


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