CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi stated Saturday afternoon that securing Yemen’s strategic Bab al-Mandeb Strait “is a battle of life or death for Egypt.”
Speaking after a meeting with members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Sisi asserted that “securing navigation in the Red Sea and protecting Bab al-Mandab Strait is a matter of Egyptian and Arab national security.”
The statement came days after the Egyptian army joined the Resolute Storm; a Saudi-led offensive against Houthi armed groups in Yemen, which now control most of the country.
Sisi asserted Egypt’s right to intervene military to prevent Houthis from controlling or closing the strait, adding that such a closure “would have negative effects on the trade in Egypt’s strategic Suez Canal, one of the country’s main sources of income.”
Around 12 percent of the world’s trade passes through the Suez Canal.
Sisi added that Egypt would not give up its brothers in the Arab Gulf and that his country would “protect them if necessary.”
The SCAF meeting followed the return of Egypt’s Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy from Saudi Arabia, where he was attending a meeting of chiefs of staff of Arab countries to discuss a proposed joint Arab force.
Hegazy’s meeting comes a week after the closing session of the Arab League Summit held in Sharm al-Sheikh in which President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi announced member states agreed to form a joint military force to deal with regional security issues. The force is expected to be formed within four months.