By Marwa Al-A’sar
Egypt is unlikely to offer the US military support against Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), said analyst Ali Bakr, senior analyst at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies on Sunday.
“The US has been trying to mobilise the Middle East, especially its allies, to face ISIS, fearing that the terrorist group would affect its interests in the region,” Bakr said..
“Egypt is well aware of the American aims…so Egyptian aid will be in the form of political support and intelligence,” he added.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has recently been visiting the Middle East to garner support from Arab states for a US campaign against the extremist group.
Neither Syria nor Iran was invited to join the coalition that consists of 10 Arab countries, which stresses the rift between the two of them on one hand and US and its allies on the other.
On Saturday, Kerry met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi as well as Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo.
“Egypt is on the frontline of the fight against terrorism, particularly when it comes to fighting extremist groups in Sinai,” Kerry said during a joint press conference with Shoukry.
Egyptian officials did not specify what help it could provide in the campaign against ISIS, as Shoukry also noted Egypt’s own fight against an insurgency of jihadist groups..
In a bid to alter the image of Islam in western minds, Kerry said that the ideology of ISIS “has nothing to do with Islam”.
“It is increasingly clear that its (ISIS) message of hate is rejected by the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world,” he said.
“I’ve heard this loud and clear from leader after leader in Muslim states that I’ve visited, and it is clear in the pronouncements of religious leaders around the world,” Kerry added.
On Thursday, Kerry gathered the forces of the Gulf states against the jihadist group in the Saudi city Jeddah.
In a joint statement, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon, vowed to jointly fight against jihadist groups that have taken control of Iraq and Syria without going into specifics.
“These countries will most probably cooperate with the US financially and on the level of information…they may further finance the armed groups in Iraq that are against ISIS,” Bakr said.
On the same day, Kerry was in Turkey to address the same issue. Turkey’s stance towards the American initiative, however, remains unclear.
A Turkish government official told AFP Thursday on condition of anonymity that Turkey would refuse to allow the US to use its airbases in attacking jihadists in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.
“Turkey is trying to have a regional role that suits its interests…but its stance is quite contradictory,” Bakr said.
The territory that ISIS controls in Iraq contains oil worth millions of dollars, which makes it the wealthiest jihadist group in the world.
In his weekly address Saturday, US President Barack Obama detailed America’s expanded military mission against jihadists. He vowed a “targeted, relentless counterterrorism campaign” against the militants that have swept across much of Iraq and Syria throughout the past few months.
“Saudi Arabia will join the effort to help train and equip moderate Syrian opposition forces. And retired Marine General John Allen – who during the Iraq war worked with Sunnis in Iraq as they fought to reclaim their communities from terrorists – will serve as our special envoy to help build and coordinate our growing coalition,” Obama added.
Obama further added that America would continue launching airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, adding that the US is “prepared” to take action in Syria too.
According to the recent estimates of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq have reached a number ranging from 20,000 to 31,500.
“This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence,” CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani recently said in a statement.