Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry has refuted reports of ground troops in Yemen.
In statements to the television program ’10 in the Evening’, the Foreign Minister said that Egypt’s involvement is to ensure the return of order in Yemen. The Minister added that Egypt’s role in cooperating with the Coalition has not involved any deployment of ground troops.
The Egyptian Armed Forces’ role in Yemen has solely consisted of deployment in the Red Sea to prevent Bab El-Mandab strait from falling under Houthi control.
Bab El-Mandab strait is a crucial interest for Egypt and has been cited as one of the reasons Egypt decided to intervene in Yemen. The strait is strategically positioned whereby if it falls under the control of an ‘enemy’ then passage through the Suez Canal can be prevented.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Egypt had sent up to 800 ground troops to Yemen’s war.
“We have sent these forces as part of Egypt’s prominent role in this alliance … the alliance fights for the sake of our brotherly Arab states, and the death of any Egyptian soldier would be an honour and considered martyrdom for the sake of innocent people,” said a military source to Reuters.
The deployment was reported to consist of four Egyptian units of between 150 to 200 troops, along with tanks and transport vehicles.
Despite the reports, Egypt’s government never commented on the issue.
In March, Egypt’s Foreign Minister confirmed that Egypt is ready to deploy ground troops in Yemen ‘if needed’. The statement had come ahead of the Arab League’s plan to form a unified Arab military force with the involvement of Egypt and other Arab states.
Saudi Arabia is carrying military operations in its conflict-torn neighbour Yemen as part of a coalition that includes 9 other countries, Egypt among them.
The operations come in response to a request by Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who called for an Arab intervention in his country to halt the Shi’a Houthis’ advances.