Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry participated last week in the Syria peace talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne, invited by US secretary of state John Kerry. However, British newspaper The Guardian revealed that Iran’s foreign minister personally demanded the attendance of Shoukry, who wasn’t primarily planned to attend the talks.
Lausanne talks failed to reach a ceasefire agreement or common vision for peace solutions to the Syrian conflicts. According to emails that were seen by The Guardian, Kerry reached out to Iran’s foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif to attend the talks, along with six other countries. However, Zarif said: “Why not Egypt, too?”
The Guardian further added that Iran agreed to attend the talks only if Egypt and Iraq participated. Both Egypt and Iraq back Iran’s stance which supports Syria’s president Bashar Al-Assad, unlike the other countries that were involved in the talks, which oppose Al-Assad, such as the United States, Turkey, and Qatar.
Syrian activist Feras Yehia told Daily News Egypt that Egypt is a key player in the Middle East and took a neutral decision regarding the Syrian conflict, adding that Egypt’s main demand was supporting the Syrian state and citizens.
“Egypt is a current member in the United Nations security council and it was only expected that it participates in the Lausanne talks. However, some parties are trying to benefit from the current tension in the Middle East,” Yehia said.
Earlier this month, Egypt voted in favour of two different draft resolutions in the United Nations security council (UNSC). The first one was filed by France and backed by Spain, and the second one was filed by Russia. The Saudi envoy described Egypt’s voting in favour of the Russian resolution as “painful”. One day following the voting, Saudi’s Aramco halted its oil supply to Egypt for the month of October. Both resolutions failed to be adopted by the UNSC, as they were vetoed.
Egypt’s Ministry of Petroleum said that the agreement with Aramco is still in effect, and further added that the halting decision was taken before Egypt’s voting on the Russian resolution. Egypt has disclosed a pro-Russia stance regarding Syria, as Russia is backing the Al-Assad regime and held aerial bombardments and military flights over Syria’s afflicted city of Aleppo. However, Saudi Arabia is backing the opposition in Syria and supported them with financial aid and arms.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been on good terms since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi. Saudi Arabia provided Egypt with billions of dollars to assist the latter’s economy. The tension that occurred following the voting was the first voiced tension between two supposed allies in the Middle East.
Egypt’s backing of Al-Assad’s regime has not been officially announced; however, the country took several stances that disclosed its close relations with the Syrian regime. Last week, Egypt hosted a high-level Syrian delegation belonging to Al-Assad’s regime to discuss political solutions to the current turmoil in Syria, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency.
Also, member of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces Mohammed Bassam Al-Malek previously told Daily News Egypt that the security communication between Egypt and Syria hasn’t stopped since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took office in 2013.
The political turmoil in Syria had started in 2011 during the chain of revolutions that took place in several Arab countries. The country is divided into many political factions, as foreign countries are also divided into supporters of the Syrian regime and opposition forces. The UN has come up with several ceasefire agreements but the turmoil is still ongoing.