Egypt–Syria relations

Egypt–Syria relations refers to the bilateral relations between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Syrian Arab Republic. Egypt has an embassy in Damascus. Syria has an embassy in Cairo.

Egypt–Syria relations



Both countries were members of the Arab League, but as of November 2011, Syria has been suspended from the League due to its failure to follow up with an agreement concerning its current civil war.[1] Relations were generally well under the reign of Hosni Mubarak, but were strained after the election of hardline Mohamed Morsi. Egypt closed down its embassy in Damascus in june 2013. However, relations were restored in July 2013, and the embassies in both countries were reopened at that time.

History of relations

United Arab Republic

Pan-Arab sentiment was traditionally very strong in Syria, and Nasser was a popular hero-figure throughout the Arab world following the Suez War of 1956. There was thus considerable popular support in Syria for union with Nasser's Egypt. The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party was the leading advocate of such a union.[2]

On 1 February 1958, a group of political and military leaders in Syria proposed a merger of the two states to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Thus, on 22 February 1958, the United Arab Republic was formed. However, the newly created republic was short-lived and collapsed a mere three years later, on 1961 following the 1961 Syrian coup d'état.[3]

Nonetheless, relations between Egypt and Syria were cordial after the collapse of the union, and Syria stood by Egypt during the Six-Day War of 1967, which resulted in Egypt losing the Sinai and Syria losing the Golan.

Yom Kippur War

In 1973, Egypt and Syria launched the Yom Kippur War on Israel with a coordinated attack to retake Sinai and the Golan. Although the 2-weeks long war ended with Egypt regaining Sinai and Syria restoring a strip of land from the Israeli-occupied Golan, Egyptian-Syrian relations have become strained due to Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat's peace treaty with Israel in the Camp David Accords. Hafez al-Assad severed all relations with Egypt after the signing of the peace deal, and diplomatic relations were not re-established until 2005, when Egypt once again enjoyed warm relations with Syria under the rule of Bashar al-Assad.


After the Arab Spring and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, relations became extremely strained. The Muslim Brotherhood is a banned organisation and its membership is a capital offence in Syria. Egypt severed all relations with the Syrian Arab Republic in 2013 but resumed months later.

Under Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt supported the Syrian opposition and called on Assad to step down, largely due to the rule of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt. On 15 June 2013, President Morsi ordered the closing of the Syrian Embassy in Cairo and called for a no-fly zone over Syria.

An estimated of between 70,000 and 100,000 Syrian refugees were living in the country under Morsi's rule and the government tried to support Syrian refugees by offering residency permits, assistance on finding employment, allowing Syrian refugee children to register in state schools and access to other public services.


Diplomatic relations were restored, and the embassies reopened after Morsi was removed from office just weeks later in July 2013. In July 2013, the two countries agreed to reopen the Egyptian consulate in Damascus and the Syrian consulate in Cairo.[4]

In late November 2016, some Arab media outlets reported that Egyptian pilots arrived in mid-November to Syria to help the Syrian government in its fight against the Islamic State and Al Nusra front.[5] This came after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi publicly stated that he supported the Syrian military in the civil war in Syria.[6] However, several days later, Egypt officially denied it has a military presence in Syria.[7]

Although Egypt has not been vocal in support for any sides of Syria's ongoing civil war, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said in 2016 that his nation's priority is "supporting national armies", which he said included the Syrian Armed Forces.[8] He also said regarding Egypt's stance in the conflict: "Our stance in Egypt is to respect the will of the Syrian people, and that a political solution to the Syrian crisis is the most suitable way, and to seriously deal with terrorist groups and disarm them,".[8] Egypt's support for a political solution was reaffirmed in February 2017. Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Ahmed Abu Zeid, said that Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, "during his meeting with UN Special Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, on Saturday confirmed Egypt’s rejection of any military intervention that would violate Syrian sovereignty and undermine opportunities of the standing political solutions.”[9]

Egypt has also expressed great interest in rebuilding postwar Syria, with many Egyptian companies and businessmen discussing investment opportunities in Syria as well as participation in the reconstruction effort. Tarik al-Nabrawi, president of Egypt's Engineers Syndicate said that 2018 will witness a “boom and influential role for Egyptian construction companies in Syria and to open the door for other companies — in the electricity, building material, steel, aluminum, ceramics and sanitary material fields among others — to work in the Syrian market and participate in rebuilding cities and facilities that the war has destroyed.”[10]

On 25 February 2018, Syrian state news reported that an Egyptian delegation composed of "members of the Islamic and Arab Assembly for supporting Resistance and Future Pioneers movement as well as a number of figures", including Jamal Zahran and Farouk Hassan, visited the Syrian consulate in Cairo to express solidarity with the Syrian government.[11]

Despite Egypt's close support to the Syrian regime of Assad, Egypt has also been tangled in keeping a good relationship with Saudi Arabia, a major anti-Assad country. As a response, Egypt has distanced itself from Saudi policies, thus this caused a temporary tension between Saudi Arabia and Egypt in 2016 in regard to Syria.[12][13]

See also


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