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Executive summary: On April 01, 2023, the Syrian Foreign Minister, Faisal MEKDAD, made his first official visit to Cairo since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war more than a decade ago. MEKDAD was welcomed by his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh SHOUKRY with whom he discussed bilateral relations and the most recent developments in the region and the world.

On April 1st, Egyptian and Syrian foreign ministers held their first meeting since the conflict in Syria broke out over a decade ago. The two parts agreed to strengthen ties between the two countries and to normalize their relations, following the China brokered Saudi Arabia-Iran deal.

According to a statement made by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs “The ministers agreed to intensify channels of communication between the two countries at different levels during the coming phase”. They also agreed to address issues of concern and interest for both states.

The Egyptian minister has also emphasized the need for unity and support in finding a “comprehensive political settlement to the Syrian crisis as soon as possible” as well as the importance of sustained discussions to bring Syria back to its Arab neighbors.

The Syrian part, Minister MEKDAD thanked SHOUKRY for his visit to Syria in the aftermath of the earthquake in February and appreciates Egypt’s direct assistance. He also anticipates greater support from other Arab countries to help Syria to get through the crisis.

In contrast to other Arab nations, the relations between Cairo and Damascus were weakened after the start of the war, but never completely severed.

Syria was expelled from the Cairo-based Arab League in 2011 due to the regime’s crackdown on the protests and the relations with most of the Arab world cut off. Following the quakes, most of the regional powers, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE have started to normalize relations with Syria and sent humanitarian aid to show their support.

The meeting between Faisal MEKDAD and Sameh SHOUKRY takes place during a period of increased Arab contact with Damascus.

A security source from Egypt claimed that the purpose of the visit was to prepare the way for Egyptian and Saudi Arabia mediation to get Syria back into the Arab League.

The Syrian President Bashar al-ASAAD has made official visits to a number of Arab countries recently, including the UAE and Oman, but also with Russia amid rumors that Syria would rejoin the Arab League as the Arab governments have shown signs of opening up towards Damascus to restore diplomatic relations.

On February 27, 2023, after the devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria, the Egyptian Minister SHOUKRY arrived to Damascus for a visit where he met Bashar al-ASAAD and conveyed President Abdel Fattah al-SISI message by expressing Cairo’s support and sympathy for Syria and its desire to enhance bilateral cooperation.

The purpose of the visit was labeled as “first and foremost humanitarian”.

Sources from the US say that Egypt’s president al-SISI is likely to meet President Bashar al-ASAAD later in April after Ramadan. The talks aimed to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries and it might bring Syria back into the Arab League.


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