Egypt’s Shoukry lays out steps for Syria to re-enter Arab fold

Egyptian foreign minister also addressed Turkey and Sudan during his visit to Washington.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Tuesday laid out the steps Cairo says Syria should take to fully normalise relations with the Arab world.

Speaking at the Wilson Centre during a visit to Washington for the US-Egypt strategic dialogue, Mr Shoukry said “there will be a receptive re-entry of Syria into the Arab League” should Damascus take those steps.

“We believe that there necessarily has to be a time when Syria is reintegrated into the fold,” said Mr Shoukry.

“But this is in conjunction with policies that the Syrian government will demonstrate in that it has a willingness to once again play its traditional role in support of national security in dealing with the internal dynamics of the crisis: in the humanitarian dimension as well as the refugee problem.”

He also called on Syria to “show greater co-operation in how it regains the trust of both the region and its own internal dynamics” to “regain its posture and play its traditional role in a way that is supportive of the peace and security of the region".

Mr Shoukry met Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September to discuss Damascus’s reconciliation with other Arab countries.

The Arab League expelled Syria in 2011 following President Bashar Al Assad’s bloody crackdown on dissidents and his government's actions during the ensuing civil war. But in recent years, several Arab countries have taken steps to normalise ties with Syria.

Egypt has, for example, agreed to export natural gas to help ameliorate Lebanon’s fuel crisis via a pipeline that runs through Syria.

Mr Shoukry also condemned the presence of Turkish troops in the last major rebel bastion of Idlib, where the soldiers act as a bulwark against forces loyal to Mr Al Assad.

“We see no reason that there should be this posture or this presence, neither in Libya nor in Syria or northern Iraq, for that matter,” said Mr Shoukry.

The foreign minister reiterated accusations that Turkey is intervening in “Egyptian internal affairs” via its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s government has outlawed.

Following a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday, Mr Shoukry also discussed the recent coup in Sudan with President Joe Biden’s envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman.

“Egypt has a very sensitive situation when it comes to Sudan,” said Mr Shoukry. “We continue to monitor the situation, but certainly not to intervene or to do anything that would be construed by either side as being partial.”

He warned of “undue pressure being exerted on Sudan and the Sudanese political entities that might result in increasing the level of dissatisfaction or in destabilising the country".

The US, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the UK called for the immediate restoration of Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government in a joint statement last week.

Mr Shoukry noted that he will travel to Paris this week once his meetings in Washington wrap up to attend a conference on the situation in Libya.

Updated: November 10th 2021, 5:12 AM
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