Egypt is renewing diplomatic relations with the Assad regime, Arab world media has reported.
The move comes as Russian troops rush to Syria to aid embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad in what the US and other Western powers fear could mean a further escalation of the country’s civil war, which has claimed over 250,000 lives in 4.5 years.
Gen. Ali Mamlouk, a top security adviser to Assad, was in Cairo two weeks ago for meetings with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and senior security officials, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz, which cited Arab reports.
The Assad regime and Cairo share a fight against Islamic State, a major element in the anti-Assad rebellion since 2014 and a growing presence in the Sinai Peninsula, where an ongoing battle between Egyptian security forces and an Islamic State affiliate has claimed the lives of dozens of troops in recent months.
Mamlouk and his Egyptian counterparts reportedly discussed the fight against Islamic State, and against other Islamist factions, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which controlled Egypt’s government until it was ousted by Sissi in June 2013.
Both sides also see Turkey’s Islamist president Recep Tayyip Erdogan as an opponent.
Egyptian sources told Haaretz that the country’s military echelons have always seen the Assad government as a partner, and that relations between the capitals soured under the Muslim Brotherhood government.
Mamlouk has also reportedly visited Saudi Arabia and Oman for talks on the ongoing civil war.