Egypt’s presidential spokesman denied on Monday the possibility of allowing foreign military bases in the country, according to Al-Ahram, a state-owned newspaper.
Egypt’s official denial refute recent media reports that Russia is negotiating with Cairo to construct a military base near the Mediterranean.
The media reports, started by Russian daily newspaper Izvestia, claimed that Russia is negotiating with Egypt to rent a number of military facilities, including an air base in Sidi Barani town, 95 kilometers east of the Egyptian-Libyan borders, starting 2019.
The Russian newspaper Izvestia cited its diplomatic and military sources as saying that Cairo and Moscow were in talks on a deal which would allow Russia to deploy a military facility in the North African country.
A diplomatic source said, “The negotiations over possible participation of Russia in rebuilding of Egyptian military sites on the Mediterranean coast near Sidi Barrani are quite successful. If both parties agree to the terms, as soon as 2019 the base may become operational. Cairo is ready to lease it to Moscow because it would use it to pursue high-priority geopolitical goals, which align with Egypt’s interests.”
Sidi Barrani is a small coastal town located about 100 km from the Libyan border.
Until 1972, the Soviet Union had a small naval facility near the town which was used to monitor US naval forces deployed to the region, according to the report.
In addition, the diplomatic source said that the planned new facility would be operated by the Russian Air Force rather than the Navy. At least initially, only a small contingent would be deployed, the source said.
A military source told the newspaper that the new asset would be convenient, considering the growing instability in the region.
Talaat Musallam, a strategic and security expert and former Egyptian armed forces general told the newspaper,”The utility of an airbase near Sidi Barrani is obvious for Moscow. Even though Russia has a similar base in Syrian Khmeimim, the presence of Russian warplanes in Egypt would allow Moscow conduct military missions in the western Mediterranean.”
He add, which remains in turmoil, would be a potential place of action.”
However, a military source also told Al-Ahram Arabic that Cairo strongly rejected other countries requests to build military bases in Egypt, explaining that foreign military bases run against the principles of the government.