The recent entry of Egypt into the precarious peacemaking process in Syria has been welcomed in Yerushalayim as potentially mitigating the danger of an Iranian presence in the country.
The development has been “to Israel’s delight,” according to Haaretz on Monday. The Israelis are glad to have Egypt, which officials in Yerushalayim expect will be sympathetic to Israeli interests, working to block Iran and Hezbollah.
According to the report, after getting a green light from the Saudis and the Russians, Egypt has already contributed to arranging ceasefires between the rebel militias and the regime. The one in Ghouta al-Sharqiya (east of Damascus) began on July 22; that in the northern neighborhoods of Homs in early August. They are located in the zones on which Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed in May, in consultation with the United States.
Israel, which has been conducting intensive, high-level meetings in Washington in recent days, and plans similar consultations in Moscow this week to press its concerns on security for the Golan border, will presumably use them to promote further Egyptian involvement in Syria.
Egypt has been cooperating with Israel in fighting terrorists in northern Sinai, and hopefully will add weight to Israel’s position vis-à-vis the emerging arrangements in Syria.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi has said that “Assad is part of the solution” in Syria, and allowed Egypt’s intelligence chief to meet publicly with his Syrian counterpart, Ali Mamlouk, in Cairo. Other meetings have reportedly taken place between officials of the two countries over the past year as well.
In addition, a delegation of senior Egyptian businessmen and chamber of commerce officials attended a trade fair in Damascus last week, another sign of a warming between Cairo and Damascus.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem praised the delegation’s size and seniority, which he said “reflect our Egyptian brothers’ desire to strengthen relations between our countries.”
It would seem to indicate that the Arab boycott of Syria and its expulsion from the Arab League will not stand in the way Egypt’s initiatives in the country.