by WorldTribune Staff, April 18, 2017
President Abdul Fatah Sisi offered to send up to 40,000 Egyptian ground troops to fight alongside the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen, a Saudi general said.
“His excellency Sisi offered Saudi Arabia and the coalition to send ground troops,” Gen. Ahmed Asiri told Al Arabiya on April 16.
Asiri said Riyadh rejected the offer because Saudi Arabia’s goal has been to build a strong Yemeni army that will be able to protect Yemen in the future.
“The methodology in Yemen has been to not deploy non-Yemeni troops on Yemeni land,” he said.
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said the Egyptian military “is currently taking part with naval and aerial forces but at that time we were talking about around 30 to 40 thousand ground troops.”
An unnamed Egyptian official told local media on April 17 that Egypt has never offered to send ground forces to Yemen.
“Saudi Arabia had asked Egypt to send ground troops but we said a definite no to this matter. This is one of the main reasons for the recent dispute between the two countries,” the official said.
Sisi met with Saudi King Salman last month on the sidelines of the Arab League summit in Jordan.
Political analyst Mohammad Ezz told The New Arab that Egyptian authorities have yet to make an official statement on the report because they do not want to further damage relations with Riyadh.
“If Sisi comes out and denies the claims it would cause a commotion in the kingdom ahead of his upcoming meeting with the King and if he confirms it then it would anger the Egyptian public who are opposed to sending troops abroad,” Ezz said.
The conflict in Yemen pits an internationally-recognized government backed by the Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who captured the capital, Sanaa, in September 2014.
The coalition includes the Gulf monarchies Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates along with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan.
In 1962, Egypt intervened militarily in Yemen in support of a coup seeking to oust the country’s monarchy. Up to 20,000 Egyptian troops were killed.