Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1346, (25 - 31 May 2017)
Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Issue 1346, (25 - 31 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Collective efforts

Combating terrorism topped President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s agenda during his meeting with US President Donald Trump, reports Doaa El-Bey

Al-Sisi, Salman and Trump following a ceremony to mark the opening of the Global Centre for Combating Extremist Ideology on Sunday in Riyadh (photo: AP)
Al-Sisi, Salman and Trump following a ceremony to mark the opening of the Global Centre for Combating Extremist Ideology on Sunday in Riyadh (photo: AP)

In his address to the Arab-Islamic-American Conference in Riyadh on Sunday President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi said that ending terrorism will depend on curtailing all the terrorists’ sources of financial and ideological support.

“President Al-Sisi’s address to the summit dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s. He presented a decisive vision which highlighted four main points,” said Mohamed Hegazi, former assistant to Egypt’s foreign minister.

“The first addressed those who supply, train, arm, provide shelter for terrorists and conceal information. Second, he condemned selective approaches in dealing with terrorism. In other words, the Islamic State [IS] and Al-Nusra are not the only terrorist groups and combating terrorism needs a comprehensive strategy. Third, he stressed the importance of the ideological confrontation with terrorism and fourth, the necessity for collective efforts to resolve existing conflicts in the Middle East, the Palestinian issue and the crisis in Syria foremost among them.”

“Some countries are involved in financing terrorist organisations and providing them with safe havens. Others refuse to share information they have about terrorist activity, even with Interpol,” Al-Sisi said.

Describing terrorist organisations “as cancerous cells connected across the world”, Al-Sisi called for a clear timetable to uproot the phenomenon.

“A complete confrontation with terrorism means facing up to countries that supply, train, arm and provide political and ideological cover for terrorists,” Al-Sisi said.

Al-Sisi pointed out that Egypt has been involved in a ferocious war against terrorists in North Sinai, adding “we are keen to eradicate terrorism with the least possible losses.”

He underlined the importance of renewing religious discourse and supporting an intellectual revolution that reflects the peaceful essence of Islam and pointed to the role Al-Azhar can play in effecting this.

Al-Sisi also expressed the hope that increased US engagement in the problem would bring about the qualitative change needed to defeat terrorism.

The Riyadh summit, he said, was testimony to “our determination to renew our partnership with all countries”.

In their bilateral meeting Al-Sisi and Trump underscored their commitment to strengthening strategic relations and cooperation. Trump hailed Al-Sisi’s efforts to combat terrorism and said, “I will get to Egypt. We will absolutely be putting that on the list very soon.”

Their meeting came barely a month after Al-Sisi trip to Washington which commentators hailed as a resetting of relations between the two countries.

Resolving the Palestinian issue was prioritised during both the Islamic summit and the Al-Sisi/Trump bilateral summit.

Al-Sisi said efforts to eradicate terrorism would fail in the absence of a fair end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on a two-state solution.

Trump has repeatedly expressed his wish to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. On arriving in Tel Aviv, the second leg of his Middle East tour, he said: “We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security, stability and peace to this region and to its people.”

The summit, according to Hegazi, offered the US president a chance to listen to different viewpoints. “He listened to President Al-Sisi, to Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Nayef, to King Abdullah of Jordan and of course to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Now he has a clear view about the two-state solution.”

Relations between Egypt and the US have noticeably improved since Trump’s election and the Saudi summit provided an opportunity to further enhance cooperation.

“Pope Francis’s visit to Egypt offered the Arab and Islamic world moral support to face up to terrorism and the US — representing the West — provides political, security and strategic support. The consensus is now that the Arab and Islamic world is an inseparable part of the battle against terror.”

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