Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, arrived in Damascus on Monday, marking the first visit by an Egyptian foreign minister to the Syrian capital since the country’s conflict erupted in 2011. The Syrian state news agency Sana reported that Mr. Shoukry’s trip was part of an effort to show solidarity with Syria and Turkey after the devastating earthquake that hit both countries earlier this month. The earthquake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, resulted in the deaths of more than 46,000 people in both countries.
Following his visit to Damascus, Mr. Shoukry is set to travel to Turkey on Monday to continue the mission of showing solidarity with the two countries and their brotherly peoples. The Egyptian foreign ministry released a statement saying that the visit is an opportunity to strengthen ties between the three countries, and to demonstrate Arab outreach to the internationally isolated Syrian government.
Why is the Egyptian foreign minister visiting Syria now?
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi called his Syrian counterpart Bashar Al Assad on February 7, marking the first official exchange between the two leaders. The move was a significant shift in Egypt’s position towards Syria, which had been estranged since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. The visit by Mr. Shoukry is the latest example of Egypt’s efforts to re-engage with the Syrian government.
The situation in Syria has remained complex and unstable, with the country devastated by a decade-long civil war. Egypt’s outreach to Syria is seen by many as a potential step towards a resolution to the conflict, and a return to stability in the region. With the visit of Mr. Shoukry, hopes remain high that the countries can work together towards a brighter future for the region.
Image Credit: Egypt MFA Spokesperson/Twitter