Amid a restive time the Middle East is going through, Egypt and France share the same views regarding several issues and crises in the region, including the civil wars in Syria and Libya.
The Syrian issue
In 2016, Egypt and France shared the same view regarding the Syrian crisis. This view focuses on fighting the Islamic State (IS) group, without the opposition forcefully excluding Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad from the political process .
On the one hand, when he was running for president, French President Emmanuel Macron called for the ouster of Al-Assad and to take him to the International Criminal Court. After becoming president, Macron said Al-Assad must not be excluded from the political process in Syria. In June 2017, the French president said that “France no longer considered his (Al-Assad’s) departure a pre-condition to resolving the six-year-old conflict.”
However, Egypt, under the presidency of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, has long called for a political solution for the Syrian Civil War, stressing that the solution to the crisis has to be in the hands of the Syrian people. In a recent interview with the Portuguese TV in November 2016, Al-Sisi said that Egypt supports “national armies in Libya and Syria” and confronting the terror groups.
In October 2016, Egypt’s permanent delegate to the Security Council voted for a Russian resolution regarding Syria despite the rejection of Egypt’s allies in the Arab Gulf. The resolution called for halting all “offensive actions in Syria” but excluded the Russian raids.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said in an interview with CNN in December 2016 that Egypt supports the Syrian people and has been consulting with the Syrian national opposition, adding that “the Syrian opposition and the Syrian people deserve the opportunity to take matters into their own hands in a peaceful political process.”
The Libyan crisis
Regarding the Libyan crisis, France has been involved on the ground since the start of the uprising to the extent of having troops that participated in ousting former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in 2012. However, after the escalation of the civil conflict and the rise of militias and radical Islamist groups, France has leaned towards supporting a political situation.
Last July, Macron hosted the two main two main rivals in conflict-ridden Libya: Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and Leader of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar were the two rivals signed an agreement of cooperation and ceasefire, and agreeing on the demobilisation of fighters and making efforts to integrate them into the Libyan National Army. The main outcome of the meeting was the agreement to hold elections in Libya in spring 2018.
In Egypt, the current government supports having a national army to handle the security of the country. Hence, Egypt has been a vocal supporter of Haftar and has fears of terror groups in the east of Libya on its borders. The Egyptian military is active in the Western Desert to stop the inflow of militants and arms trafficking.
The agreement between al-Sarraj and Haftar was welcomed by Egypt, praising the need of a political solution as the only way to resolve the Libyan crisis in order to counter terrorism and save the unity of the Libyan territories.