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Iran Press TV

Securing key Yemeni strait top Egyptian priority: Sisi

Iran Press TV

Sat Apr 4, 2015 9:10PM

Egypt says securing access to the Red Sea through Bab al-Mandab Strait off Yemen's coast is top priority, nine days after Cairo joined the Saudi-led military aggression against Yemen.

'Securing navigation in the Red Sea and protecting Bab al-Mandab Strait is a top priority for Egypt's national security,' said Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in a Thursday statement.

In a speech broadcast on state television later, the former Egyptian military chief claimed that securing the strategic waterway was also a matter of 'Arab national security'.

'El-Mandab strait is Egyptian and Arab national security,' said Sisi, vowing to firmly challenge any possible threat to it.

'Our benefit is in the security and stability of the Arab countries, and the whole world if possible,' he added. 'We will not let down our brotherly [Persian] Gulf countries'.

The oil-rich Persian Gulf states have pledged at least $50 billion in aid and investments to Egypt since the 2013 ouster of the nation's first freely elected President Mohamed Morsi.

The Red Sea is positioned at the southern end of Egypt's Suez Canal, through which a substantial portion of the world's maritime trade passes.

The strait, which is only 32 kilometers wide, separates southwestern Yemen from the tiny African state of Djibouti, prompting fears among the Saudi-led coalition members that its control by Yemeni revolutionary Ansarullah fighters may threaten their naval movements in the key waterway that facilitates access to the Mediterranean Sea from the Indian Ocean.

A Saudi-led coalition of more than 10 countries, including Egypt, launched an air campaign in Yemen on March 26 in a bid to restore to power to the country's fugitive president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

Hadi stepped down in January and refused to reconsider the decision despite calls by Houthi revolutionaries, who later declared that he had lost legitimacy as he escaped the capital Sana'a to the southern port of Aden in February.

In late March, Hadi fled Aden, where he had sought to set up a rival power base, to Riyadh after Ansarullah revolutionaries advanced on the port city.

According to latest estimates by the United Nations, at least 519 people, including women and children, have lost their lives since the Saudi aggression started.


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