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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Cameras to replace peacekeepers in the strategic Red Sea Strait

Officials said the remotely controlled cameras would be the responsibility of US-led peacekeepers to ensure that international shipping maintains freedom of access to the Gulf of Aqaba, whose coastline is shared by Israel and three Arab countries.

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Tiran Island, which lies in the strait of the same name at the mouth of the gulf, was handed over from Egypt to Saudi Arabia in 2017 along with Sanafir Island next door.

During a visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia last week, US President Joe Biden announced that small multinational forces and observer (MFO) teams on Tiran would be departing.

The MFO oversees the 1979 US-brokered peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, which deployed peacekeepers in the demilitarized Sinai to ensure free movement in and out of the Gulf of Aqaba above Tiran.

The Straits of Tiran have a history: Egypt blocked them in May 1967, amid the trigger for its war with Israel the following month. In 1973 the countries fought another war at the Sinai.

Any MFO redeployment from the island requires the agreement of Egypt, the US and Israel. Neither of those countries, nor the MFO, has publicly discussed when or what will happen.

But a country official told Reuters: “peacekeepers will be replaced with camera-based systems.”

Two officials from other countries said cameras were already installed at an MFO base in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, which is now 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the Saudi-held islands in the Strait of Tiran. Work.

A diplomatic source who visited Tiran said the MFO had cameras there as well. Should such cameras be kept and operated, it could lead to security coordination between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which has no formal relationship.

A person in Washington familiar with the matter said the agreement called for the cameras to be installed in the crew’s existing facilities, opening up possibilities for both Sharm el-Sheikh and Tiran as placement sites.

“It was important to Israel that the commitment Israel received from Egypt as part of this process should not be compromised, with a peace agreement, most importantly, regarding freedom of shipping,” said Israel in the United States. Ambassador Michael Herzog said.

“The matter has been addressed,” he told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM.

World Nation News Desk
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