A Top Syrian Security Official Visits Egypt

A top Syrian intelligence official has discussed security coordination with his Egyptian counterpart amid warming ties between the two countries.security

Syria’s state news agency SANA reported that Syrian National Security Bureau chief Ali Mamlouk “made an official visit to Cairo,” where he met with General Khaled Fawzy, the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, as well as other “senior security officials.”

SANA said “The two sides agreed to coordinate political stances,” adding that they also decided to “strengthen coordination in the fight against terrorism.”

Although Egypt has yet to make any official statements on Mamlouk’s visit, media outlets in the country over the weekend reported that Syrian officials had traveled to the country.

Mamlouk’s visit comes after Egypt voted in favor of Russia’s proposed resolution at the UN Security Council to institute an “immediate ceasefire” in Syria on October 8 – omitting mention of aerial bombardment – a measure defeated by vetoes from the US, France and Britain.

Saudi Arabia reacted angrily to Cairo’s diplomatic move with the Kingdom publicly criticizing its long-time ally as rifts between the two continue to grow. Days after the vote, Riyadh suspended its oil aid to Egypt amid mounting tension over a number of issues.

Egypt defended its vote in support of Moscow, saying that it supported all efforts to end the conflict in Syria, and also voted in favor of France’s rival resolution.

In fact, this wasn’t the first time Mamlouk visits Egypt as a Syrian political source in Damascus told AFP that Mamluk had “met with Egyptian officials in Cairo previously, but this is his first public visit,” as reported by the Middle East Eye.

In August 2015 Mamlouk, who has served as a diplomatic troubleshooter for the Bashar al-Assad regime, previously travelled to Egypt in August 2015.

Also, Lebanese Daily Al-Akhbar reported that Abdel Fattah el-Sisi received the Syrian official, who has also reportedly made trips to Jordan and Saudi Arabia in the past year.

Al-Mamlouk was appointed chief of the Syrian National Security Bureau in 2012. He currently supervises all Syrian security apparatuses. Al-Mamlouk’s name is one of several Syrian names listed by imposed E.U. sanctions.

The Egyptian ties with Syria have improved in the past year as Sisi has moved closer to Russia. Egypt’s foreign policy towards Syria aligns with the Russian foreign policy and that was obviously interpreted in the last UN vote.

However, Egypt’s stance has angered Saudi Arabia, one of Egypt’s major Gulf backer.

The Saudi ambassador to the UN Abduallah al-Mouallimi condemned Egypt’s vote in favor of the Russian resolution and described it with the “painful” stance. After the voting, al-Mouallimi said, “It was painful that the Senegalese and Malaysian stance was closer to the Arab’s consensus than the Egyptian delegation.”

He also said that he feels pity for these countries that voted for the Russian resolution, stressing that his country will continue backing the Syrian people by all means.

The latest Egyptian vote in support of the Russian resolution represents another blow to the Egyptian-Saudi relations.

Accordingly, Saudi Aramco informed the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), Egypt’s state oil company, in early October that it would halt the supply of refined oil products to Egypt.

The official said, without giving a timeline for the suspension or a reason, “Aramco informed the EGPC early this month of its inability to supply Egypt with shipments of petroleum product.” One day later, the Saudi oil supplies to Egypt were reportedly resumed according to the EGPC.