Ras Banas

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Coordinates: 23°54′17″N 35°47′20″E / 23.90472°N 35.78889°E / 23.90472; 35.78889 Ras Banas (Greek: Lepte Akra, Egyptian Arabic: راس بناس  pronounced [ɾɑːs bæˈnæːs]) is a peninsula in Egypt extending into the Red Sea. The inlet of water sheltered to the south of it is called Foul Bay, at the head of which sits the ancient port of Berenice. It is believed that Mukawwa Island to the south of the tip of the peninsula, may have been connected to the peninsula at some point in the past however little or no research has been conducted to support this claim.

History[edit]

Ras Banas has a detailed military history. It served as a Soviet military base until they moved out.[1] The Soviets were allowed to construct the base following the 1964 USSR-United Arab Republic (Egypt) fishing agreement.[2] The Soviets commenced the construction of the base in 1970, becoming their first base in Egypt, although the construction of the base was kept secret until 1972 when an Israeli newspaper published details of the base. The Egyptian government continued to try to cover up the base by alleging that a new port was being constructed at Berenice with a road being constructed from there to Aswan, although through treacherously difficult terrain. This new road would allow produce from the area to travel to Aswan and also allow for pilgrims to travel from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. These claims by the Egyptian government were later proven incorrect following international investigation.[3] In July 1972, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, seeking to establish good relations with the United States, ordered the Soviets to leave.[4]

In February 1979, Anwar El Sadat encouraged Harold Brown, the United States Secretary of Defense of the time, to consider using the peninsula as a US naval and air facility. Initially, the United States showed no interest in the site however the offer became increasingly attractive. To obtain a congressional appropriation for rehabilitating the military facilities on Ras Banas, the US required a written agreement from Egypt allowing the US to use the facilities. Sadat was reluctant to give his written agreement and insisted that his oral commitment would be appropriate. However, on his last visit to Washington, D.C., in 1981, he signed a letter allowing the US to use Ras Banas.[5] The location of Ras Banas allowed it to potentially serve as a staging area for Persian Gulf operations and for other Middle Eastern and North African contingencies.[6]

The initial plans produced by The Pentagon included making it a facility for CENTCOM troops and for staging B-52 bombers and C-5 transport aircraft.[7] However, due to the absence of a written agreement by Egypt and the subsequent lack of approval for funding of the project at the time, the plans were dropped. The plans were resurrected after Egypt's written agreement, although were scaled down. The new plans scaled down the importance of the CENTCOM facility by constructing POL facilities. The proposals also included the construction of a water desalination plant with a water distribution network, improvements to the airfield (including the construction of a new runway), the construction of warehouses, fuel storage depots and barracks capable of holding 25,000 US troops.[8] Egypt had reservations over the construction of a formal CENTCOM base on the site due to worries that this may form the subject of violence from radical Arabs. This was further reinforced following the assassination of Sadat in 1981. In May 1981, the plans were denounced by the Cairo-based newspaper Ash-Sha'b as "a threat to our independence and sovereignty."[9] In 1982, Hosni Mubarak refused the construction of a permanent US airbase on Ras Banas although made it clear that United States Rapid Deployment Forces could use the military facilities on Ras Banas in the case of an actual emergency.[10]

The cost of construction of the US military facilities was estimated to cost $522 million, making it the second most expensive project in Washington's Southwest Asia strategic network, only being surpassed by Diego Garcia.[6] However, it was believed that costs could rise to as much as $1.6 billion.[11] Of the costs being put forward for the development of Ras Banas, these included $7 million being given from the Secretary of Defense's contingency funds to establish construction mobilisation activities in 1982.[12] However, in 1983, Egypt announced that it would develop Ras Banas without US aid after talks between the two countries broke down over the use of Ras Banas. However, talks recommenced resulting in an agreement that the base would be run jointly.[12]

However, by 1985, when Europe refused to fund Egypt's regeneration of Ras Banas as a military base, the United States decided to abandon their ambitious project altogether.[8] Despite this, the base is used by the United States for some military operations. For example, it was used as a port of call by the United States Sixth Fleet in the early months of the Gulf War.[1]

Climate[edit]

Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as hot desert (BWh).

Climate data for Ras Banas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 24.8
(76.6)
25.9
(78.6)
27.5
(81.5)
30.9
(87.6)
33.9
(93)
35.5
(95.9)
36.4
(97.5)
36.3
(97.3)
35
(95)
33.3
(91.9)
29.9
(85.8)
26.1
(79)
31.29
(88.31)
Daily mean °C (°F) 19.1
(66.4)
19.9
(67.8)
21.6
(70.9)
24.7
(76.5)
28.1
(82.6)
29.6
(85.3)
30.8
(87.4)
30.8
(87.4)
29.5
(85.1)
27.7
(81.9)
24.3
(75.7)
20.5
(68.9)
25.55
(77.99)
Average low °C (°F) 13.4
(56.1)
13.9
(57)
15.7
(60.3)
18.6
(65.5)
22.4
(72.3)
23.7
(74.7)
25.2
(77.4)
25.4
(77.7)
24.1
(75.4)
22.1
(71.8)
18.7
(65.7)
15
(59)
19.85
(67.74)
Precipitation mm (inches) 0
(0)
0
(0)
1
(0.04)
1
(0.04)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1
(0.04)
7
(0.28)
2
(0.08)
12
(0.48)
Source: Climate-Data.org[13]

Features[edit]

Ras Banas hosts a large airport with three asphalt runways, 9,914 feet (3,022 m), 9,900 feet (3,018 m) and 9,600 feet (2,926 m) in length.[14] It is operated by the Egyptian Air Force.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gerson, Joseph; Bruce Birchard (1991). The Sun Never Sets: Confronting the Network of Foreign U.S. Military Bases. South End Press. p. 290. ISBN 0-89608-399-3. 
  2. ^ McGwire, Michael; John McDonnell (1977). Soviet Naval Influence: Domestic and Foreign Dimensions. Praeger Publishers. p. 316. 
  3. ^ Abir, Mordechai (1974). Oil, Power and Politics: Conflict in Arabia, the Red Sea and the Gulf. Routledge. p. 128. ISBN 0-7146-2990-1. 
  4. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=gZ3gDS-vAMEC&pg=PA73&lpg=PA73&dq=ras+banas+soviet+military+base&source=bl&ots=xGHGtVmw6P&sig=wMB8ev8raT_Thu-J3WWFNtbotQM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xZ7jT7a6LJKM0QGngMHpAw&ved=0CFkQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=ras%20banas%20soviet%20military%20base&f=false
  5. ^ Quandt, William B. (1988). The Middle East: Ten Years After Camp David. Brookings Institution Press. pp. 144–5. ISBN 0-8157-7293-9. 
  6. ^ a b Lefebvre, Jeffrey Alan (1991). Arms for the Horn: U.S. Security Policy in Ethiopia and Somalia, 1953-1991. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 232. ISBN 0-8229-3680-1. 
  7. ^ Cordesman, Anthony H. (1987). Western Strategic Interests in Saudi Arabia. Croom Helm. p. 68. ISBN 0-7099-4823-9. 
  8. ^ a b Morley, Morris H. (1988). Crisis and Confrontation: Ronald Reagan's Foreign Policy. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 136. ISBN 0-8476-7432-0. 
  9. ^ Acharya, Amitav (0415010047). U.S. Military Strategy in the Gulf. Routledge. pp. 105–7. 
  10. ^ Burns, William Joseph (1984). Economic aid and American policy toward Egypt, 1955-1981. State University of New York Press. p. 201. ISBN 0-87395-868-3. 
  11. ^ Congressional Quarterly (1983). U.S. Defense Policy. Congressional Quarterly. p. 187. ISBN 0-87187-258-7. 
  12. ^ a b Rais, Rasul Bux (1986). The Indian Ocean and the Superpowers: Economic, Political and Strategic Perspectives. Routledge. pp. 89–90. ISBN 0-7099-4241-9. 
  13. ^ "Climate: Ras Banas - Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". Climate-Data.org. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  14. ^ "Airport RAS BANAS". Falling Rain. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  15. ^ "RAS BANAS - General Airport Information". The Airport Guide. Retrieved 2008-07-11.