US peacekeepers to Leave Red Sea Island of Tiran by end of 2022: White House

White House

The White House is seen from the Ellipse in Washington (File image)

Photo : AP

Washington: The White House on Friday said that a multinational peacekeeping force would leave a strategic Red Sea island by the end of 2022. The development is likely to boost opportunities for normalising diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The announcement in this regard was made by US President Joe Biden during his visit to Saudi Arabia. The White House in another announcement specified the timeline.
Earlier in the day, Biden met Saudi Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah. “International peacekeepers, including US troops, will leave Tiran island in the Red Sea where they’ve been for over 40 years,” the US President said as quoted by AFP.

Notably, on Thursday Israel agreed to approve a deal to transfer control of Tiran and another island, Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. The step is likely to create opportunities to restore diplomatic ties between the Jewish state and Riyadh.

Also Read: Israel agrees to handover Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia: Reports

The two islands are barren and inhabited. However, they are important for their strategic location. They are located at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba. Jordan’s only seaport and Israel’s Eilat harbour are located on the Gulf of Aqaba.

Egypt ceded these islands to Saudi Arabia in 2016. However, the deal required Israel’s approval. Riyadh reportedly wanted to develop these islands for tourism. Israel occupied these two islands in 1967. However, after the 1979 peace agreement, it handed back these islands to Egypt. However, Cairo was not allowed to station its troops there. Only peacekeepers were based on these islands.

Notably, in a significant mover, Saudi Arabia on Friday lifted the ban on Israeli flights. Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation, in a statement, said that it was announcing the decision to open the Kingdom’s airspace for all air carriers that meet the requirements of the Authority for overflying.

In 2020, the Saudi Arabia government decided not to join US-brokered Abrahan Accord with Israel. In September 2020, Israel formalised ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco with the backing of the United States. It signed the Abraham Accord with these countries.