Biden announces removal of Red Sea island observer force, advancing steps toward Saudi-Israel ties

Tiran Island in the Gulf of Aqaba. (CC BY 3.0/Wikipedia/Marc Ryckaert)
Tiran Island in the Gulf of Aqaba. (CC BY 3.0/Wikipedia/Marc Ryckaert)

In remarks following hours of meetings with Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince, US President Joe Biden announces the withdrawal of observer troops that secured a pair of Red Sea islands for over forty years.

The move allows their transfer from Egypt to Saudi Arabia in a US-brokered agreement that includes steps by Riyadh toward normalizing ties with Israel.

“We’ve concluded a historic deal to transform a flashpoint at the heart of the Middle East wars into an area of peace. International peacekeepers, including US troops will leave Tiran Island in the Red Sea where they’ve been for over 40 years since the Camp David Accords,” Biden says.

“Five American soldiers died on the strategically located islands in 2020 and its important to remember them today,” he says.

“Now as a result of this breakthrough, this island will be open to tourism and economic development while retaining all necessary security arrangements and the present freedom of navigation of all parties, including Israel,” Biden adds.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia announced that it would open its airspace to all civilian carriers, including from Israel.

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