Home » Egypt holding up Red Sea island deal, sources say

Egypt holding up Red Sea island deal, sources say

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Charts: Axios Visual

Egypt is pending implementation of an agreement on two strategic Red Sea islands, paving the way for the next phase for Saudi Arabia. relationship normalization With Israel, according to four Israeli officials and one US source.

Important reasons: of agreementIt consists of a series of agreements between the United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt.

  • The deal completes the transfer of the islands of Tiran and Sanafir from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

Behind the scenes: A US-led multinational observer force that has been present in Tiran for years as part of the agreement I need to leave the island by the end of December.

  • But Israeli officials told Axios that in recent weeks Egypt had begun raising reservations of a largely technical nature, including the installation of cameras on the islands that were part of the agreement. It is to monitor activity in Tiran and Sanafir, as well as in the Strait of Tiran.
  • White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met last week With Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Washington US-Africa SummitU.S. and Israeli sources said Sullivan raised the issue of the Red Sea Islands Agreement and stressed that he hopes the Biden administration will implement it.
  • Israeli officials said a deal involving the withdrawal of multinational forces from the island would not be implemented before the end of December due to reservations by Egypt.
  • The Egyptian embassies in Tel Aviv and Washington and the Saudi embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

State of play: A senior Israeli official told Axios that he believed Egypt was putting the deal on hold because of bilateral issues between the US and Egypt, including US military aid.

  • Citing human rights concerns, the Biden administration has twice frozen 10% of the roughly $1.3 billion in military aid allocated to Egypt each year.

Flashback: Earlier this year, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Baht) blocked another $75 million in aid to Egypt.

  • When Barbara Leaf, the State Department’s top Middle East diplomat, visited Cairo last October, Egyptian officials said the administration would transfer all of its military aid if it truly considered the relationship strategic. I told her that I was expecting
  • According to sources, Rif urged his Egyptian counterparts to be more methodical in lobbying parliament on military aid. However, Egyptian officials have made it clear they do not intend to launch an annual lobbying campaign, stressing that if the issue is important to the regime, they know how to get it done in parliament.
  • The White House and Israel’s prime minister’s office declined to comment.

Catch up soon: Despite public protests in Egypt, Egyptians Congress June 2017 and the supreme court of the country In March 2018, an agreement was approved to return sovereignty over the islands to Saudi Arabia.

  • However, the deal required Israel’s buy-in because the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty required Tiran and Sanafil to be demilitarized zones and required the presence of a US-led Multinational Observer (MFO).

  • Israel gave Approval in principle of transfer The islands will be returned to Saudi Arabia while an agreement between Cairo and Riyadh on multinational force activities and freedom of navigation in the strait is pending.
  • However, the deal was never finalized, mainly because Saudi Arabia wanted international observers to leave the island. This necessitated a new arrangement involving Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
  • In September 2021, the Biden administration began quiet mediation between Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt on the issue. The deal closed last July, the day before Mr. Biden arrived in Saudi Arabia.
  • According to our understanding, the MFO peacekeepers, including US soldiers, were to depart Tiran and move to new positions on the Sinai Peninsula, using cameras to remotely monitor the situation on the island.

Line spacing: As part of the Red Sea Agreement, Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow Israeli airlines to use its airspace for eastbound flights to India and China, said to do discuss direct flights From Israel to Jeddah for approved carriers for Israeli Muslim pilgrims who wish to join the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

  • But the Biden administration is struggling persuade oman Allow Israeli airlines to use its airspace.
  • Without such permission from Oman, Israeli airline flight routes would remain blocked, rendering the Saudi move all but pointless.

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