Jan 06 2018

Turkey setting up military, intelligence base on Red Sea – ex-envoy

Turkey is establishing a naval and intelligence infrastructure on the Red Sea, as part of a “ring of military cooperation” along the coast in East Africa, writes Zvi Mazel, Israel’s former ambassador to Egypt, in the Jerusalem Post.

The island of Suakin, which belongs to Sudan, is “most probably going to serve as a strategic observation point overseeing movements in the Red Sea,” said Mazel, who is now a fellow of The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. “Turkish naval vessels will be able to drop anchor there as well as in other Sudanese ports.”

Sudan’s handover of the island to Turkey is ostensibly to enable the Turks to restore monuments dating from the Ottoman era now badly in need of repair. Turkish specialists are already on the spot, Mazel said.

“The development will not be welcomed by Egypt, because Turkey is encroaching on an area vital to its defense,” he said.

Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Egypt have been put on hold after Ankara condemned Cairo for the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, Turkey has been developing closer ties with Qatar, which also supports the Brotherhood, and has established a military base in Qatar to strengthen defence cooperation.

Qatar is also developing military relations with Sudan, posting an attache to Khartoum and holding joint exercises with Sudan on the Red Sea last month, Mazel said.

“Egypt finds itself threatened by these two countries, which are now cooperating with neighboring Sudan,” he said.