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Egypt might be closer to an agreement with Eritrea, to host a new Egyptian naval base on Nora island

Article by Sabahat Khan for the Arab Weekly
Tigrai Online March 15, 2020

Agyptian Nave in Nora Island in Eritrea

There have been unconfirmed reports that Egypt may be moving close to an agreement with Eritrea, with which ties have been warming in recent years, to host a new Egyptian naval base on Nora island.

Increasing strategic premiums attached to overseas bases could well mean Cairo may soon need to revise its traditional policy on the issue and consider developing a strategic presence that enables extended power projection capability through arrangements with partners such as Eritrea.

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Eritrea’s growing alignment with Egypt is, however, causing concerns with Ethiopia and Sudan. Cairo and Addis Ababa have been locked in a dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the continent’s biggest hydroelectric dam being constructed on the Nile River’s main tributary that could threaten Egypt’s water security.

Sudan, which backs GERD, has had complicated ties with Cairo and an unresolved dispute over the Egyptian-controlled Halayeb Triangle, which is near Egypt’s new Ras Banas base.

On the other hand, Ethiopia has been landlocked and without a coastline since Eritreaseceded from it in 1993 following a violent conflict that has killed more than 80,000.

Ethiopia and Eritrea technically remain at war and last witnessed major clashes in 2016. Having built one of Africa’s most capable air and ground forces, Addis Ababa’s confessed desire to reconstitute a naval capability to protect its interests at sea is giving rise to anxiety in Eritrea.

Read More As it moves closer to Eritrea, Egypt eyes military base on Nora island