US defence secretary visits military base used to strike Yemen

United States Secretary of Defence, James Mattis during his official visit to Saudi Arabia on 19 April 2017. [Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Kingdom Council/Handout]

United States Secretary of Defence, James Mattis during his official visit to Saudi Arabia on 19 April 2017. [Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Kingdom Council/Handout]
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US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Djibouti yesterday to visit an important military base at the southern entrance to the Red Sea used as a launch pad for operations in Yemen and Somalia.

The US base, which has about 4,000 personnel, is located just miles from a Chinese one, still under construction, which has caused concern to some US officials.

Djibouti is on the route to the Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation, sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, and also hosts Japanese and French bases.

The White House recently granted the US military broader authority to strike Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.

Al-Shabaab has been able to carry out deadly bombings despite losing most of its territory to African Union peacekeepers supporting the Somali government.

The United States is also carrying out strikes in Yemen against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).


Saudi FM: ‘Saudi Arabia and Egypt are two wings of the Arab region’

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) is welcomed by Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (L) with an official ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 23, 2017 [Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) is welcomed by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (L) with an official ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 23, 2017 [Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi arrived in Saudi Arabia yesterday where he received a royal welcome from King Salman. The meeting aimed at “bolstering strategic relations between the two countries”.

Relations between Riyadh and Cairo have been frosty in recent months after Egypt voted in favour of a Russian-drafted UN Security Council resolution on Syria opposed by Saudi Arabia. Russia supports Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad whilst Saudi supports the opposition fighting against him.

Read: Egyptian parliamentarian rebukes Saudi defence official

Adding to tensions last year, an Egyptian court blocked an agreement that would have seen Egypt hand Riyadh the two Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanafir.

In a sign relations were thawing, Saudi energy company Aramco resumed delivering monthly petroleum products to Egypt, which had been stopped in October.

The leaders discussed terrorism, security and stability in the region. They also talked about Syria, Yemen and Libya and the importance of finding solutions to the fighting in these countries.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said that relations between the countries are strong:

The Saudi-Egyptian relations are deep, strong, historical and strategic, and will be always stronger in the future. I look forward to more constructive meetings with [Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh] Shukry.

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AfricaEgyptEurope & RussiaMiddle EastNewsRussiaSaudi ArabiaSyria

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