Egypt hopes for more meetings with Jordan, Iraq on regional issues

Cairo has backing of Jordan and Russia on Libya, but needs more support in region.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Ramallah, July 20, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Ramallah, July 20, 2020.
Egypt is intensely involved in regional diplomacy, according to a recent report about the possibility of more Egypt-Jordan-Iraq tripartite meetings.
Last year, the foreign ministers of the three countries came together for discussions reportedly held in Baghdad, Amman and Cairo in March, August and November, respectively.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi, are the key to this growing relationship. Shoukry reached out to Jordan in recent weeks about support for Egypt’s views on Libya.
Cairo opposes increased escalation in Libya caused by Turkey sending Syrian mercenaries and Turkish drones to the North African country. Russia has also increased its presence in Libya. Egypt’s parliament has supported Egyptian leader Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s “redline” in Sirte that is designed to deter Turkish aggression.
But Egypt knows it needs more support in the region. It already has Greece, Cyprus, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE on its side. But most of these players want someone else to be the muscle in Libya. Iraq would be a helpful piece of the puzzle, but it is also indebted to Iran, as well as being infiltrated by Iranian-backed militias and intelligence agents.
Nevertheless, Iraq is traditionally a key part of the Arab world and Arab League. In this context, Baghdad, Cairo and Damascus are the traditional centers of power in the region.
Even though power has shifted in favor of Tehran, Ankara and the Gulf in recent years, the creation of a Jordan-Egypt-Iraq bloc on certain issues can aid in fighting terrorism and on energy and other deals, the foreign ministers think.
That is at the heart of attempts to encourage Iraq’s new prime minister, Mustafa Kadhimi, to visit Riyadh, following his recent visit to Tehran, and also to open up more engagement between Cairo and Baghdad.
The concept of tripartite meetings of the foreign ministers is designed to more closely coordinate efforts on Libya and other issues, according to the Gulf’s Al-Ain News.
For Shoukry, this would be a crowning achievement. He has been foreign minister since 2014 and was a key player prior to that in Washington. He has sought to increase Egypt’s role in the region at a difficult time, during the end of the Arab Spring, and transition back to stability.
His Jordanian counterpart was appointed in 2017, while their Iraqi counterparts have been dealing with more chaos at home to try to project Iraq’s power abroad. Northern Iraq is partly occupied by Turkey, and Iran plays a similar role in other areas of Iraq.
Safadi has been trying to deal with fallout from the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century” and balance Jordan’s precarious position between Israel, the Palestinians, a recovering Syria and an Iraq that still has instability.
It thus falls on Egypt to be the main initiator and driver of this relationship. In this context, Egypt hopes its tripartite meetings can bring more stability to the Arab world – and challenge the role of Turkey in Libya.