Egypt denied its readiness to send troops to Syria to replace the US forces there. In a statement on Friday, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs illustrated that Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry did not mention sending Egyptian forces to Syria when commenting on the US proposal in that regard.
On Wednesday, Shoukry said in a celebration at Al-Ahram Institution that the idea of replacing US troops with Arab forces is a possibility. He added that the idea was brought up during discussions and deliberations amongst officials of states to evaluate how the idea could help stabilise Syria. Shoukry named the countries that could send forces to Syria.
In the Friday statement, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abou Zaid said that Shoukry’s comments were a response to a question about the proposition of replacing the US forces in Syria with Arab forces and did not pertain to Egypt.
He stressed that “the principles that govern sending Egyptian forces abroad are known to all, and it happens in line with constitutional tools and regulations such as the cases of peacekeeping as part of the United Nations’ forces.”
In a phone call with an Egyptian TV station, Abou Zaid reviewed “basic elements” that govern the Egyptian stance regarding Syria, including protecting the Syrian people and preserving the integrity of the state, as well as countering terrorism.
Egypt is not only the most populous country in the Arab world, but it also has the strongest Arab army and is considered a regional power in the Middle East.
Last month, US President Donald Trump expressed his desire to remove US forces from Syria and replace them with Arab forces. Saudi Arabia expressed readiness to send forces to Syria as part of a coalition.
Thousands of people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of an uprising there in 2011. The uprising turned to a civil war, and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad brought in allied forces from Iran and Russia, in addition to the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, to support him against the rebels. On the other side, hundreds of jihadists from all over the world travelled to Syria to support the Syrian rebels and the Syrian Free Army, which is fighting against Al-Assad.
The Islamic State group, also known as “Daesh”, expanded in Syria during the six-year civil war, especially after its defeat in Iraq.