MidEast

Defense Chief Mattis Visits Cairo Amid Strengthening U.S.-Egypt Ties

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in Egypt on Thursday as part of his tour of the Middle East.

While in Egypt, Mattis is expected to discuss regional security issues with Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhy and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. He will also lay a wreath in a ceremony at Cairo’s Unknown Soldier Memorial in honor of Egyptian soldiers who died in battle. Mattis’ visit symbolizes a distinct warming of relations between the U.S. and Egypt in contrast to the Obama administration.

Mattis started his tour of the region in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday where he met King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as well as Interior Minister Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef. According to the Department of Defense, the visit was to strengthen commitments to the U.S.-Saudi security partnership in the turbulent Middle East.

The Trump administration is reportedly considering providing intelligence, aerial refueling, and other military assistance to the United Arab Emirates, which is participating in the Saudi-led coalition in the civil war in Yemen.

On Friday, Mattis will travel to Israel for the first time as Defense Secretary, where he will meet President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman.

Whilst in Israel, Mattis is expected to discuss the civil war in Syria, the fight against ISIS, and the threat of Iran to the region. He will also participate in a wreath laying ceremony at Yad Vashem.

Over the weekend, Mattis is due to visit Qatar and then Dijibouti in order to strengthen regional stability and discuss ways to “defeat extremist terror organisations,” according to the Pentagon.

In related news, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday warned against an “unchecked Iran” which could “follow the same path as North Korea” in pursuing nuclear weapons and putting global security at risk. On Tuesday, the White House announced that it was reviewing the lifting of sanctions on Iran and how that has impacted on U.S. national security. The announcement was made as part of the letter to Congress declaring that Iran was in compliance with the Iran nuclear deal.

(via BICOM)

[Photo: BICOM ]