According to the presidency, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi opened a vital naval installation on the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday to “secure shipping lines.”
“It is the latest Egyptian military base on the Mediterranean,” the Egyptian president stated in a statement. “It will be focused on securing the country’s northern and western fronts.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Mohamed al-Menfi, Chairman of Libya’s Presidential Council, were among those present at the ceremony. The base is located 255 kilometers (160 miles) west of Alexandria, near the Libyan border, where Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have both played important military roles. Libya’s new transitional administration was chosen through a UN process that began in Tunis in November, was voted on in Geneva, and was confirmed by Libya’s parliament on March 10.
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have long been seen as important sponsors of Khalifa Hafta, a Libyan military strongman located in the east who attempted to capture the capital Tripoli from the previous government. In April, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli visited Libya, where he met with interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah, signaling a new phase in Cairo-Tripoli relations.
In February, Dbeibah traveled to Egypt for the first time since his election. Dbeibah also visited Abu Dhabi in April, where he was greeted cordially by Sheikh Mohammed, who expressed support for the new Libyan government. Military manoeuvres including numerous warships, attack helicopters, and fighter jets were watched by Sisi and his entourage.
According to the Egyptian state-run newspaper Akhbar Al-Youm, the new base includes an airstrip and a 1,000-meter (3,280-foot) long pier. The base was named “July 3” after the day that Sisi led the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi eight years ago. Three more naval bases in the Mediterranean and one in the Red Sea are owned by Egypt.