Egypt, Russia agree on two-state solution for Palestine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry shake hands after their joint news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 24, 2019. (AP)
Updated 24 June 2019

Egypt, Russia agree on two-state solution for Palestine

  • Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has moved to increase military cooperation with Russia
  • The two nations foreign and defense ministers have held regular meetings

CAIRO: Egypt and Russia said on Monday that they agree on a two-state solution and the need to reach a comprehensive deal to the Palestinian issue.

Speaking during a joint press conference, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Moscow and Cairo have a common vision on a large number of regional issues.

He added that counter-terrorism must be treated with a comprehensive strategy.

His Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, said Moscow supports dialogue between the Arabs and Iran and wants to build confidence to establish security in the Arabian Gulf.

On Syria, Lavrov said: “We are concerned about trying to turn Syrian territory into a zone of conflict between Iran and Israel.”

He said that Russia stresses the need for dialogue and reject attempts to secede in Syria.

Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Egypt was successfully fighting terrorism — an important step for the whole region — during talks with his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Ahmed Zaki in Moscow on Monday.

“We are certain that neutralizing the extremist and terrorist groups operating in your country corresponds to the interests of the whole region,” Shoigu said. According to him, Egypt was “an example of stability in these tumultuous times for the whole Arab world.”

“Largely, this is a personal achievement of President (Abdel Fattah) El-Sisi and the Egyptian Armed Forces. We support the effort of the Egyptian leadership to combat terrorism and normalize the situation on the Sinai Peninsula,” the Defense Minister added.

Shoigu also pointed out “Egypt’s key role in resolving political and economic issues in North Africa and the Middle East.”

Talking about the regular meetings of the two countries' defense and foreign ministers an important part of bilateral cooperation. “The diplomats and the military of our countries have a great opportunity to discuss the burning issues of the current agenda,” the Russian Minister said.


Hundreds of employees fired from Turkey’s Incirlik air base

Updated 25 January 2020

Hundreds of employees fired from Turkey’s Incirlik air base

  • Incirlik Air Base is located in Turkey’s Adana province, near the Syrian border, and it has been a strategic element in ties between Ankara and Washington
  • It has also played a key role for the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) against Daesh in Syria and Iraq in the past

ANKARA: More than 420 people working at a crucial military air base in southern Turkey have lost their jobs, with some analysts considering it symbolic of decreased cooperation levels with the US and as the Pentagon reconsiders Middle East deployments.
Incirlik Air Base is located in Turkey’s Adana province, near the Syrian border, and it has been a strategic element in ties between Ankara and Washington. It has also played a key role for the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) against Daesh in Syria and Iraq in the past, as well as hosting US nuclear warheads.
The Colorado-based company Vectrus System Corporation, which provides day-to-day maintenance and operation services at the base, terminated the contracts of almost half of its employees at the base earlier this month.
“The base surged to support OIR,” Aaron Stein, director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told Arab News. “The Turkey-based staff for OIR has mostly left. So, the base is going back to its pre-OIR level of people, and that level requires less contractor support.”
Vectrus did not reply to Arab News’ request for comment about its decision to scale back at the base.
Joe Macaron, a resident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, said the move was largely symbolic as the canceled contracts related to logistical support rather than the US military mission.
“But obviously, it comes against the background of some tensions in the US-Turkish relationship and previous hints by Ankara that it might reconsider the status of the Incirlik base,” he told Arab News. “The Pentagon is reconsidering its deployment across the Middle East and it might be looking to become less dependent on Incirlik without fully exiting this crucial military air base.”
Incirlik air base has been used in the past as a bargaining chip at times of tension between the two countries.
“Turkey may re-evaluate the status of the Incirlik Air Base if the US imposes sanctions,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last month in an interview with pro-government channel A-Haber, referring to the potential fallout from Turkey’s decision to buy an air defense system from Russia. 
Washington has threatened to use its Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act to punish Ankara for buying the S-400 system.
Seth J. Frantzman, who is executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, said reports of the US reducing presence at Incirlik, or challenges to the US presence there, have been growing over the last years.
“Whether these reports relate to changes or are just random is unclear and it is important to note that the large interests of the military and history tend to mean the US does not simply walk away from bases, even if it reduces its role slowly over time,” he told Arab News.
The US has invested heavily in the Jordanian Muwaffaq Salti Air Base to expand its presence there.