Egypt says talks are underway with officials from “various countries” to consider a US proposal to form an Arab army and replace the American military forces in Syria.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said replacing US troops in Syria with another force “that may be Arab is a possibility.”
“This proposition is not only being discussed by the media, but also during discussions and deliberations amongst officials of states to look into how these ideas could contribute to stabilizing Syria,” he was quoted by Arab language newspaper al-Ahram as saying.
Reports, citing US officials, revealed last month that the administration of US President Donald Trump was seeking to build up an Arab military coalition to replace US troops in Syria.
It also called on its wealthy regional allies, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to increase their spending in Syria to contain Iran after the collapse of the Daesh terrorist group in the Arab country.
Reports said that Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton has asked Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kamel to know if his country would contribute to the effort.
A spokesman for the National Security Council declined to comment on Bolton’s call to Kamel, but other officials acknowledged the conversation. They also said that the Trump administration had reached out to the Persian Gulf states as well.
“Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have all been approached with respect to financial support and more broadly to contribute,” an administration official said.
Back then, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that “discussions are underway with Washington on the type of troops that should be present in eastern Syria and where these forces will come from.”
He also expressed Riyadh’s readiness to send troops to Syria as part of a potential wider deployment led by the US.
Riyadh, a staunch supporter of anti-Damascus terrorists, fears a US troop pullout may help Syria win the fight against extremist groups that are inspired by Wahhabism, a Takfiri ideology dominating the Saudi kingdom.