US has regained its weight in the region, El-Sisi tells CNBC
US has regained its weight in the region, El-Sisi tells CNBC
Speaking in an interview with CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, he praised US President Donald Trump and the approach he has taken in the Middle East.
The Egyptian president also said he would not seek a third term in office, adding that he does not intend to change the constitution and its provision of a two-term presidential limit.
“It doesn’t suit me as a president to stay one more day against the will of the Egyptians,” he told CNBC over the weekend.
“We will not interfere with (the constitution)… I am with preserving two four-year terms,” El-Sisi added.
However, he did not confirm if he intended to run for a second term when his current term expires.
El-Sisi came to power in 2014, a year after he led the military in ousting elected but unpopular Islamist President Mohammad Mursi. Rights groups say El-Sisi has since led an unprecedented crackdown on political opponents, activists and critical media.
He is unlikely to face strong opposition and many in Egypt see him as vital to stability in a country where unrest since 2011 has battered the economy.
Security and stability
He said that the country’s security and stability were continuing to improve every day.
“The stability in Egypt doesn’t emanate from the power of the police force or military forces imposing stability and security but from the will of the people. The Egyptians are the ones who are eager for stability and that Egypt is safe for their future and the future of their children and grandchildren.”
“As for the Iranian nuclear agreement, here in Egypt, all that is important for us with regard to the region is that the Arab national security is untouched. The national security in the Gulf is part of our security and our national security is part of the security of the Gulf... We want the region to live in peace, stability and security and that our national security is untouched and the Arab national security, the Gulf national security is untouched. That is what we are looking for.”
Presidents Trump and Putin
On Trump, he said: “I see that President Trump is managing foreign policy in our region. Can I say in short that the United States has regained its weight in the region and its role and is preserving the security of the region and its countries... We are completely supporting and cooperating with President Trump on this.”
Asked if he was closer to Trump or Putin, he responded first with a laugh and then said he admired Trump and that Egypt had “very good relations with President Putin.”
But El-Sisi said the US was fulfilling its commitment to Egypt, explaining that: “It has completely changed for the better since President Trump has come to power in the United States.”
He added that the region’s stability was “very important,” adding: “The region has more than enough fighting and turmoil and lack of stability. We don’t want to add more instability and fighting. This message is for everyone. We should be keen on our stability and security, and the others should be keen too on their stability and security. The region cannot support more turmoil.”
“This is the message I want to convey and we are keen on the unity of Lebanon and its stability and peace of Lebanon… We preserve its unity, we preserve its stability, we preserve its independence.”
Asked if this was the time to be taking on Hezbollah he replied: “The subject is not about taking on or not taking on, the subject is about the status of the fragile stability in the region in light of the unrest facing the region, like Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen and Somalia and other countries. We want to increase stability, not have more instability with other measures.”
He said that despite his critics’ claims Egypt was “at war against terrorism in the full meaning of the word.”
“Stability has been achieved by comparison to what it was like before… Of course, the percentage of stability has increased in a very big and noticeable way. I am not the only one saying this, but everyone who is following up Egypt’s affairs can see this. But did we finish totally, of course not.”
On Egypt’s economy, El-Sisi explained: “The first path concerns investment opportunities in Egypt. The measures we have taken brought about real economic reform and we can say that we are proceeding seriously and the Egyptian people understand that... The second thing is to attract investment(s) to Egypt. We created a very strong legislative structure in order to attract investments.”
“With all of that, there are no real problems facing investors to come and work here, taking into consideration that Egypt is the second biggest economic revenue for any investors that will come to Egypt. We are careful to encourage them by all means possible.”
Asked about the recent reports that Cairo was one of the least safe cities for women, El-Sisi initially questioned the reports. But when pushed he conceded: “I admit that they face … but there is a difference between saying that Cairo is the biggest capital in the world facing sexual harassment. There is sexual harassment in Egypt. There is a big percentage, it is a high percentage, but not to say that it is the worst.”
He said all men should be held to account — by law — for their actions toward women.
Security alert as Qatari ex-minister linked to terror reappears in public
- Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Thani was photographed in Doha recently autographing a wall portrait of Qatar ruler
- The Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – placed Abdullah Al-Thani on a list of 59 terrorists being sheltered by Qatar
JEDDAH: The re-emergence in public of a former Qatari interior minister linked to financing and promoting terrorism has rung alarm bells in the security community.
Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Thani was photographed in Doha recently autographing a wall portrait of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
The Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — placed Abdullah Al-Thani on a list of 59 terrorists being sheltered by Qatar. He has been accused of financing several terror operations and of accommodating terrorists, including those involved in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks, at his farmhouse in Qatar.
Al-Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal architect of those attacks, moved to Qatar “at the suggestion of Abdullah Al-Thani,” according to the US Department of Defense.
In 1995, Abdullah Al-Thani is believed to have provided funding to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to support him in combat in the Bosnian war. While the US pushed for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s arrest, Abdullah Al-Thani told Khalid Sheikh Mohammed about the growing pressure for his detention, leading to him leaving the country with a Qatar-provided passport on a government executive jet. When he returned, Abdullah Al-Thani was briefly confined to house arrest.
“This man is a big supporter of terrorism and of Al-Qaeda and there is no doubt that he enjoys the patronage of the Qatari regime. His re-appearance confirms all our worst fears that Qatar is a hotbed of terrorists and anti-Arab plotters,” said Saudi scholar and international affairs expert Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri.
“We had no problem with the United States. We were great allies. But Qatar wanted to drive a wedge between our good ties and so, in league with Iran, they supported and facilitated Al-Qaeda's 9/11 operation.”
Al-Shehri said it was not a coincidence that 15 Saudis were selected by Al-Qaeda, Iran and Qatar for the 9/11 operation. “Their primary purpose was to finish our relationship with the United States. With time and painstaking work by other countries it soon became obvious who was pulling the strings of those terrorists, and why.”
Abdullah Al-Thani was among the key links, Al-Shehri said. “When Doha realized it was being exposed it sent Abdullah Al-Thani out of the public eye. But it now seems emboldened enough to bring him back into the public glare. This proves once again that Qatar is the biggest promoter and supporter of terrorism, and that the Arabs, led by Saudi Arabia, have been absolutely justified in snapping ties with Qatar.”
After Saudi Arabia and three other states severed relations with Qatar in June 2017, Al-Qaeda operatives and ideologues came out instantly in support of Qatar. Egyptian Mohammed Shawqi Islambouli, a US-designated terrorist, described Qatar as “the pride of the Arabs.” Abdalrahman bin Omeir Al-Nuaymi, who the US sanctioned in December 2013 for “providing financial support to Al-Qaeda, Asbat Al-Ansar, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Al-Shabaab,” was also among those who rallied in support of Qatar.
On June 4, Al-Nuaymi posted on Twitter: “The latest developments in our region have proven that a state that sows destruction (Saudi Arabia) is inciting the West to sanction states (Qatar) and individuals.”
Al-Nuaymi is a Qatar University professor and former president of the Qatar Football Association. He was also a founding member of a prominent charity — the Sheikh Eid bin Mohammad Al-Thani Charitable Foundation, named after a member of the country’s ruling family. The Telegraph newspaper described him as “one of the world’s most prolific terrorist financiers.”
Among the list of 59 individuals and 12 organizations that the ATQ blamed for supporting terror are several who are also sanctioned by international organizations, including the UN.
Sa’d bin Sa’d Muhammad Shariyan Al-Ka’bi, a Qatari national openly living in Qatar, was designated by the UN in 2015 as a known facilitator and fundraiser for the Nusra Front. Al-Ka’bi’s activities in Qatar, including the arranging of funding and transferring funds are well known and documented, yet the Qatari government has done nothing to stop his actions.
Abd Al-Latif bin Abdallah Salih Mohammed Al-Kawari is a known fundraiser for terrorist groups dating back to the early 2000s. At that time Al-Kawari was associated with Ibrahim Isa Haji Mohammed Al-Bakr, himself a designated terrorist by the UN and US. The two were working in Qatar to raise funds for Al-Qaeda organizations based in Pakistan and Al- Kawari was directly connected to the transfer of funds from Qatar to Pakistan. Al-Kawari has also been associated with fundraising and the transfer of funders to the Al-Qaeda offshoot, the Nusra Front.
One of the major demands made of Qatar by the Anti-Terror Quartet was: “Full withdrawal of all support, shelter and funding for terror and extremist organizations of all kinds.”