There is talk about Egypt possibly answering Saudi Arabia’s call to take part in a ground war in order to complement the air raids in Yemen, which has raised concern among the Egyptian people. But what can we do if we have pledged to protect the Gulf?
First: The war waged by Saudi Arabia is an offensive on a neighboring country. Some consider it a preventive move, which is debatable. It may be acceptable to move in defense of an Arab country if attacked, but us attacking it is a different matter.
Second: Egyptians have bad memories of Yemen, as the army had sent some troops to protect the Yemeni revolution back in the 1960s, but soon had to increase those troops to the thousands as well as better equip them, which was one of the reasons Egypt was defeated in the 1967 war against Israel.
Third: Although military operations are secret, we still need to know how many warships and planes were sent to protect Bab al-Mandab because Saudi senior officials have said in press statements around the world that the Saudi campaign has the support of the United States and major European countries, with no mention of any Arab country.
Fourth: We know that we cannot anticipate the end of the war or the risks our soldiers would be exposed and whether they could enter a quagmire they would not be able to get out of. So we must know whether our participation in a ground war would be with other forces as part of an alliance or whether we would be left alone there to meet our destiny.
Fifth: A war is a means to improve one’s position in negotiations. Would we later have a seat at the negotiating table or will it just be Saudi Arabia and the United States, while we only fight?
Sixth: In the absence of a parliament, it is difficult for the president to decide on war, even if the National Defense Council and the Council of Ministers suffice from a legal point of view.
Seventh: Given Egypt's economic condition and the financial support from the Gulf, at least in verbal commitments, Egypt's position would be weakened if it declines to participate in the war.
Eighth: Egypt should refrain from political polarization and should know that the enemies of yesterday can be the friends of tomorrow. Arab aid should not be an obstacle to Egypt’s future independent role in the region.
The Egyptian people seem not to want to get involved in Yemen. But if the leadership decides to, they should support the army until the battle is over and then review the situation.
Arise, O Egyptian, for Egypt is calling for you.