Russian “Volunteers” and Egyptian Army in Syria?



"News on dispatching Egyptian military forces to Syria to combat terrorism

Iranian Tasnim News, 3 Nov 2016 

Source: Mideastwire, copyright protected. Circulated with permission.

Media sources have been carrying news indicating that the Egyptian government has dispatched military forces to Syria in the context of fighting terrorism, and the military cooperation and coordination with the forces of President Bashar al-Assad’s government. “The sources said that Egypt is keen on offering military aid and dispatching forces to Syria in order to participate in the battles of the Syrian government against the terrorists now that major schisms emerged between [Egypt] and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The latter is offering support to the terrorists in Iraq and Syria in addition to the war it has launched against the unarmed innocent people of Yemen. The sources added that the Syrian and Egyptian governments will make an official announcement regarding this coordination, which will be based on combating terrorism, in the near future.

“A Syrian source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that spoke to Tasnim neither denied nor confirmed the piece of news carried by the media sources. He however indicated that, if this piece of news is confirmed, an official statement will be issued by the ministry of foreign affairs. “Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, the head of the Syrian National Security Office, had visited Egypt some two weeks ago. This was the first announced visit to be carried out by an important Syrian official. Meetings were held with prominent Egyptian officials and the two sides could have agreed on increasing the military cooperation between them. “The visit came at a time when the Egyptian-Saudi relations are seeing differences over the discrepancy between the two countries’ positions regarding the Syrian crisis. Cairo believes that a political settlement involving all the different parties is the way to conclude the Syrian crisis, which has been ongoing for around six years. Meanwhile, Al-Riyadh believes that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave power first. In addition, Egypt has recently voted in favor of a Russian draft resolution regarding Syria at the International Security Council. This step stirred the dismay of Saudi Arabia, the number one country in terms of aid provision to Cairo. “Egyptian President Abdul Fattah es-Sisi summarized, last August, the Egyptian position regarding the Syrian crisis. [The Egyptian position] is based on five principles: “Respecting the unity of the Syrian lands and the will of the Syrian people; coming up with a peaceful political settlement to the crisis; stripping the militias and radical groups from their weapons; re-building Syria; and enhancing the state’s institutions.””"


"According to Kapa, Russian veterans of the Ukraine fighting were recruited for ground combat in Syria when it became clear that Syrians would not be able to hold ground without help, despite Russian air support.

"The Arabs are not warriors by nature, but are thrown together and told to storm high ground. They don't know how to storm it let alone conquer their instincts and move towards the bullets. How can you make them do it? Only by setting yourself as an example," Kapa said. "That's why our guys reinforced their units."

Asked if fighters in the group coordinated with the Russian defence ministry, Kapa said: "Of course"."  The Independent


 @Mike Allen – Is it not obvious that the "volunteer" Russian Military contractors are a project sponsored by the Russian Government?  They are transported to and from Syria in Russian government transport, are treated in Russian military medical facilities and are given Russian government decorations if KIA.  IMO someone in Moscow agrees with my observation that the "R" in R+6 should be bigger.  Don't get too bent out of shape over this.  It is very reminiscent of the AVG in China before Pearl Harbor.

Egypt broke off relations with Syria while Mursi was president.  He was, of course, an ally of the jihadis and the US State Department.  I am not a big admirer of the Egyptian Army and would be pleasantly surprised if they showed up in Syria and showed some fight, but they could be useful in garrisoning quiet areas.  pl

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19 Responses to Russian “Volunteers” and Egyptian Army in Syria?

  1. Tigermoth says:

    South Front reports that some Egyptian Officers have arrived to do training with the Russians. It doesn’t appear to be a permanent arrangement from this.
    “A group of Egyptian officers allegedly arrived in Syria on November 1 in order to learn from Russian military advisers that are embedded with government troops at the battle against terrorists across the country. The development took place amid the ongoing expansion of military cooperation between Russia and Egypt.”

  2. b says:

    The rumor about Egypt troops in Syria was born when an Egyptian officer delegation recently visited Syria to learn about the newest Jihadis fighting tactics. Don’t think there is much more behind it.
    But the Egyptians could probably spare some equipment. They bought lots from the U.S. over the years (with their yearly “don’t hit Israel” bribe) and surely have some Russian tanks and ammo spares.
    To send a real bunch of troops would not only miff the Saudis but also the U.S. Sisi needs the IMF loans and will get none when the U.S. says “no”. A few platoons of special forces might be allowed but only could help here or there. It would be no decisive difference.

  3. Liza says:

    Egypt has applied to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), so the participation of the Egyptian military makes a great deal of sense in that context. Syria offers an opportunity to better develop the SCO. China announced plans to train the Syrian army, and there have also been reports that other Central Asian nations would participate.
    The SCO offers an indication of how dramatically the balance of power is shifting in the world and in the Middle East. Israel also has applied for membership. And Iran already has observer status. Is it conceivable that Israel and Iran would belong to the same defense organization ? Both nations also want to join Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union. As President Xi observed, the world is on the brink of radical change.

  4. Babak Makkinejad says:

    SCO and BRICS are just acronyms – there is no substance behind them. Power has been devolving but not from one set of military or political alliances to another. Rather, I think, power has been devolving from one set of states to another set of states. I think it is more accurate to discuss which states are rising and which are falling in terms of all parameters of power.

  5. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I doubt that Egypt will raise a finger to help SAR. They are still trying to leverage their non-existent relationship with Iran to extract something, anything, out of Saudi Arabia. In that, they are modeling themselves after India and Pakistan.

  6. Prem says:

    The Egyptians don’t seem to be able to secure Sinai (perhaps they are prevented by the Camp David agreement?), so it would be very odd if they turned up in Syria in any numbers.
    Also, isn’t the Egyptian millitary basically funded by the US?

  7. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Col. Lang, SST;
    I neither like nor respect most Arabs-and some, like KSA, I absolutely detest- but, don’t you all consider the light infantry of Hassan Nasrallah among decent fighting forces, i.e, those who go where the bullets are?
    Ishmael Zechariah

  8. LG says:

    I think this is a big deal. The reverberations of the Egyptian support of the Russian resolution are quite loud in KSA. There were calls to deport Egyptian workers in the local press. Also Egypt has suspended the gifting of the two islands to Israel.

  9. LG says:

    With regard to Russian volunteers: southfront has a story on what could be one of these:

  10. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That light infantry is Shia and hails from a region that is within the old Seljuk Empire boundaries.

  11. FB Ali says:

    I feel the same way you do about KSA and the Gulfies. I also agree that Hizbullah are great fighters, as they have proven not only in Syria but also against Israel.
    The Lebanese and the Syrians are a different breed of Arabs from the Saudis and Gulfies. Probably due to their mixed ancestry.
    It seems the further away a grouping of Arabs is from Saudi Arabia, the better they are. The North Africans are a case in point.

  12. LG says:

    The people of Sham and Yemen are blessed -as in the hadeeth. The Gulfies of Najd were notably excluded.

  13. Thomas says:

    “Sisi needs the IMF loans and will get none when the U.S. says “no”
    On the morning news update from CCTV, there was a report by their Cairo correspondent that the government announced a fifty percent currency devaluation and an end to fuel and transportation subsidies. Looks like they are preparing for the worst.

  14. BraveNewWorld says:

    You are correct that the Egyptians are barred from what military personnel and assets they are allowed to station out there. The Israelis deemed to grant them permission to slightly raise the head count there about a year ago when one of the Jihadi groups in Gaza were working with the Islamists in Sainai to move arms and people across the border.
    If I remember right their is a good contingent of Americans stationed there as well and the US was looking at pulling them out earlier this year when things were more dangerous. Not that they appear to do any thing. Things have settled down considerably in Sinai since the Egyptian military started kicking ass after the police forces were attacked.

  15. Earthrise says:

    I have to give credit where it is due. When I came here 18 months ago I could not see the ‘Egypt” in the ‘R+6’ equation. They seemed to be in the Saudi camp to me, at least they were desperate for their money. I was still trying to peer through the dust and smoke of their revolution, which I fully admit I could not work out. Aussies don’t use Sir lightly.
    Bono malum superate,

  16. The Beaver says:

    Tit for Tat
    No islands and no backing wrt Yemen and Syria’ regime change : No Oil from KSA

  17. The Beaver says:

    @ LG
    Egypt has suspended the gifting of the two islands to Israel.
    you mean KSA
    I doubt Egypt will give away land to Israel.

  18. different clue says:

    I had an Iraqi co-worker at the time when the Army and State toppled Morsi and al Sisi was emerging to shut down the Brotherhood. She told me how grateful she was to see that happening because Egypt was an inspirational source for cultural production throughout the Arab world . . . as well as straight-up sending many of its own cultural productions to the Arab world. She was afraid that if Morsi and the Brothers remained in control of Egypt, that Egypt would start sending out a Brotherized culture and begin Brotherizing all the other Arab countries.

  19. Annem says:

    The Saudi-led Sunni vs Shia thing may have gone as far as it can. Egypt certainly has no stake in that notion. With the exception of the Morsi period, Egypt, like Syria, remains one of the old time products of the 1950s era highly repressive secular military dictatorships. Both are overwhelmingly Sunni populations, but shared with Saddam’s equally nasty but secular regime in Iraq, the desire for an independent foreign policy from the US, allowing them to play both sides of the Cold War.
    The Assad clan has done everything possible to blend [and marry] into the Sunni elite. It is worth remembering that this same Assad regime was not that long ago Saudi Arabia’s BFF, with links through their respective in-laws to boot. Sadat took Egypt out of that league, which also included Algeria back in the day, but Egypt has responded warmly to the Russian opportunity to chart a more balanced course. They all share enormous distaste for politicized religion and recognize the Saudi regime as its promoter.
    Iran is a useful ally for the time being, but one of the things that brought the Russians more forcefully into the Syrian conflict was that the Iranians were starting to have undue influence on the direction of the fighting, borrowing into the command structure. Russia stemmed that danger, having the advantage that some of the senior officers studied in Russia in the good old days of the Cold War.
    [And no, Alawites are not Shia and have no particular affinity with each other. Their closest equivalent would be to the equally quiet Druze when it comes to religious faith.] That is not to say, however, that Syria does not hold religious monuments of great religious significance to Iranians that for centuries have been sites of pilgrimage.]
    To get a sense of the similarity of approach toward religion between certain Arab states and Russia, it is worthwhile reading about the Grozny conference that brought Sunni scholars from around the world to basically dump on their common nemesis, the Salafis and their Saudi sponsors. Bottom line, as the Egyptian patriots of old chanted, “Religion is for God and the nation is for all.”

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