Egypt supports a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s recent chemical attack

Egypt voted in favor of a United Nations Security Council resolution, presented by  US, UK and France, to condemn a recent chemical weapons attack in Syria. The resolution obliges Syria to comply with relevant recommendations of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

On April 4, more than 70 civilians were killed in Syria in a new chemical attack that was carried out by Assad regime’s air force in Khan Sheikhoun,Idlib province,in a new chapter of Assad regime’s massacres using prohibited weapons.

The chemical attack was followed by a retaliatory US airstrike on a Syrian government air base in Homs. US President Trump authorized the launch of cruise missiles on a Syrian airbase which was behind this week’s chemical weapons attack, which was considered a new development on the Syrian crisis.

Egypt’s ambassador to the UN Amr Abul Atta said that the three countries which presented the resolution that Egypt was sorry it did not pass. Russia vetoed the decision, a move it announced in an earlier session at the UN Security Council.

Abul Atta said in his speech earlier during session that “not intervening in the Syrian crisis for the sake of one side over the other is not a negative position,”calling for the US and Russia to coordinate on the ground and politically.

The three countries adopted the resolution before the Security Council’s previous session, which was held to discuss the attack. However, the resolution was not presented after Russia threatened to veto it.

In fact, this resolution is the fourth draft of previous iterations which circulated among council members. The first draft was submitted by the three countries , another by Syria and a third by the E-10 member states.

In a statement announcing its position on the first draft of the resolution on April 6, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry announced,”Egypt feels worry and discomfort regarding the state of polarization in the Security Council concerning the matter, in a way that restricts the Security Council’s ability to end the suffering of the Syrian people.”

The ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abou Zeid said,”Egypt will continue to put the interests of the Syrian people as a top priority when dealing with draft resolutions concerning Syria in the Security Council. This is in line with the principles and positions towards the Syrian crisis since, declared its outbreak.”

Egypt has been heavily criticized for its foreign policy concerning Syria, especially in October 2016, when Egypt voted in favor of two conflicting resolutions on Syria. One of those draft resolutions was a French resolution that was supported by the three countries, Turkey and Gulf states, but was vetoed by Russia, which presented an alternative resolution which was opposed by the other parties.

The vote triggered the first public condemnation by the Saudis of the Egyptian regime, which they helped bring to power three years ago.

The Saudi criticism also coincided with cutting monthly discounted oil shipments to Egypt, a much-needed support for the country’s deteriorating economy.

In January 2016,Egypt was elected to the non-permanent UN Security Council seat where it will serve a two-year term to end in December 2017.

In addition, Egypt again aligned itself with the Russian axis regarding the Syrian file as it abstained from voting on UN Security Council resolution to introduce new sanctions on Syria last February.

The Security Council draft resolution aimed to ban the supply of helicopters to the Syrian government and impose sanctions on Syrian military and security officials and entities within Bashar al-Assad’s government over accusations that they were involved in the use of chemical weapons on civilians.

Egypt’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Amr Abul Atta said that Cairo didn’t support the draft resolution on Damascus as it didn’t include real evidence and it has only submitted unconvincing accusations.

During the UN Security Council session, Atta said that the draft resolution has neglected “the evidence,”he added, “We were surprised that it has jumped the traditional steps followed in the council and it included pre-prepared list of entities and individuals, who were considered by those presented the resolution, as the ones responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”

He also described the resolution as being “absurd” as it lacks both evidence and proof, according to his words.Atta also said that the resolution is a “preemptive step to the joint investigation commission reports.”

Russia and China have vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution imposing sanctions on Syria over chemical attacks carried out by Damascus.

Along with Russia and China, Bolivia voted against the draft resolution while Egypt, Kazakhstan and Ethiopia abstained.

At that time, it was obvious that Egypt’s permanent representative comments match the reasons submitted by Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov who also has said after the voting at the UN Security Council,”Despite our consistent appeals, the authors preferred a politically motivated path, leading to confrontation and adding complexity to the situation, including on our Security Council platform.”

The diplomat added, “They headed for deliberately heating up tensions, being well aware from the very start that this initiative has no chances of being approved at the Security Council.”

He said in this situation Russia “had no other choice but to block the passing of this resolution, the sanction list of which is copied from the analogous American list, approved at the start of this year by the previous US administration,” Safronkov said.

In fact, this is the first time for the Egyptian regime to align itself away from the Russian resolution. It seems that new Egyptian US relations under the new administration will have their effect on Egypt’s foreign policy.

During al-Sisi’s visit to U.S this month, he said inn an interview with FOX News Channel’s Bret Baier, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi praised US President Trump and talked about the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Al-Sisi also said that the “vacuum” left by the Obama administration that was filled by Russia in the Middle East. El-Sisi agreed that Obama enabled Russia to take a greater role in the Middle East and the region is now paying a price.

In fact, al-Sisi was justifying, during the interview, the Egyptian rapprochement with the Russian axis after the Egyptian-American relations deteriorated during Obama administration.