US has regained its weight in the region, El-Sisi tells CNBC

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi speaks with CNBC's Hadley Gamble. (CNBC)
Updated 07 November 2017
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US has regained its weight in the region, El-Sisi tells CNBC

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has said that the region’s stability is important to everyone and something that all need to work on.
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.”
Growing economy
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.


Did lightning strike trigger Gaza rocket attack on Israel?

Updated 23 October 2018
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Did lightning strike trigger Gaza rocket attack on Israel?

  • Hamas took the unusual step of denying it had carried out an attack
  • Israeli cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi said there was reason to believe that was true

JERUSALEM: A theory that a lightning strike triggered Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza last week gained traction in Israel on Tuesday and might explain the Israeli military’s limited response.
Two rockets were launched from the Hamas-ruled enclave on Oct. 17. But the group took the unusual step of denying it had carried out an attack. Israeli cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi said there was reason to believe that was true.
One of the rockets wrecked a house in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, causing no casualties, the other landed in the Mediterranean Sea. Israel responded with air strikes that killed a militant in Gaza.
Soon afterwards, video appeared on social media showing lightning illuminating the night sky in Gaza and then two flaming rockets streaking into the air.
Israel’s best-selling daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet now believed the lighting set off a launch mechanism.
Asked about the report, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of the security cabinet, told Israel Radio: “I won’t discuss security cabinet meetings and I don’t know which ministers are chatting with journalists, but I can say that as far as we know, Hamas did not intend to fire those rockets.”
Hamas officials had no immediate comment.
The rocket launchings coincided with Egyptian efforts to broker a long-term cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, which have fought three wars in the past 10 years.