Egypt’s Sissi says country in danger of collapse
President says US has ‘responsibility’ to do more; speaks to Netanyahu ‘a lot’ and understands Israel’s concerns on Iran
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called for greater US military support to avoid the “collapse” of Egypt, and asserted that relations with Israel are strong.
In an interview with The Washington Post published Thursday, Sissi said he believes there is “a miscommunication” with Washington, and that the United States must stand by Egyptians in the fight against regional extremism and the Islamic State.
“It seems we can’t convey our voice in as clear a fashion as it should be. However, the dangers surrounding this region are clear, and I believe the United States is following closely how terrorism is threatening [it].”
The Egyptian president said the US has the “responsibility” to do more in the fight against the Islamic State. He said the campaign against the militants can’t be from the air alone, and that there must be “boots on the ground.”
Angered by stalled Egyptian democratic reforms, Washington has frozen a chunk of its $1.5 billion in mostly military annual aid to Cairo since October 2013, insisting greater progress must be made.
Apache helicopters, however, have been delivered to the Egyptian military — a key ally in the fight against al-Qaeda and Islamic militants sheltering in the Sinai Peninsula.
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo Thursday for the Egypt Economic Development Conference, and was expected to meet Sissi.
Egypt hopes the foreign investor conference will jump-start its battered economy, while showcasing international support for Sissi as he battles radical Islamist opponents.
Sissi also addressed Egypt’s current relations with Israel, citing the permitting of Egyptian troops to be placed in the demilitarized areas of the Sinai Peninsula as an example of positive cooperation.
“The hostile mood and skepticism have diminished with peace with Israel. This can happen with the other Arab countries and Israel if a two-state solution is reached.”
Saying he speaks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a lot,” Sissi expressed support for renewed peace talks with the Palestinians.
“I just want to reassure him that achieving peace [with the Palestinians] will be a historic deal for him and for Israel, and that we are ready to help reach this peace,” he added.
Further alluding to amicable relations with Jerusalem, Sissi said that “we must understand the Israeli concern” regarding the nuclear deal taking shape between world powers and Iran.
Sissi repeatedly expressed concerns during the interview about the repercussions of his country’s collapse on the Middle East: “If this country fails, the whole region will slide into a cycle of anarchy that will represent a grave danger to all countries in this region, including Israel, and would extend to Europe.”
AFP contributed to this report