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Egypt opens ‘largest military base in Middle East’ to protect major tourist destination

Egypt opens ‘largest military base in Middle East’ to protect major tourist destination

Egypt has opened a sprawling military base in the northwest of the country, which officials claim is the largest of its kind in the region.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was seen on state TV on Saturday inaugurating the military base at El Hammam City in Marsa Matrouh governorate west of Alexandria.

Officials said the Mohammed Naguib military base is the largest in the Middle East and is to protect facilities and projects in the coastal cities on the Mediterranean. The area is a major tourist destination and has seen a surge in acts of terror by suspected militants. Daesh, a terrorist group based in Iraq and Syria, which has established a branch in the nearby Sinai region since the 2013 ouster of Sisi’s predecessor Mohammed Morsi, has been behind many of the attacks in Egypt’s northwest. Smaller groups have also targeted tourists to harm Egypt’s revenues from the profitable industry.

Naguib, whom the base is dedicated to, was Egypt’s first president after the end of the monarchy 65 years ago. Sisi, himself a general, rose to power after serving as Egypt’s head of the armed forces. He is believed to have led the popular coup which removed Morsi from office one year after he became Egypt’s first democratically-elected president. Sisi inaugurated the camp with senior officials from Arab countries in attendance.

The opening comes months after a similar base was established near the border with Libya. Authorities have said that Barrani, close to the porous western border, aims to prevent infiltration of militants from Libya, a country plagued by militancy over the past six years.