As part of his presidential campaign, candidate and former Defense Minister Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addressed a group of talk show hosts in a meeting that was aired Sunday night, hours before his first and much-anticipated television interview, which will be aired on Monday.
In the meeting, which included a wide range of television talk show hosts that are predominantly known for their support to the strong army leader, Sisi addressed different issues, ranging from economic challenges to his position on corruption networks and development.
“Public opinion will lead the scene in the coming period, not the regime. Public opinion will lead the future of the political path. Any president and any regime that doesn’t realize this will face many problems,” he explained.
Talk show hosts attending the meeting included Amany al-Khayat, Youssef al-Husseini, Adel Hammouda, Ahmed Abu Bakr, Sherif Amer and Amr Abdel Hamid, among others.
Responding to an important question by Amer on fighting corruption and targeting networks of interests inside the state, Sisi diplomatically preached for an inclusive approach.
“All of them are Egyptians in the end. We are not against anyone. The country needs us all, no one will be alienated because everybody has a role to play. I do not belong to any [party], whether internally or externally. I belong to two entities only: God and Egyptians,” he asserted.
On the country’s economic challenges, Sisi asserted “Yes, we can.”
He used the example of the current energy crisis, saying that Egypt can save up to 3000 megawatts just by using economic light bulbs, adding that the only challenge is time.
“All I need is time, because there is a gap between the wishes of the individual and the capacity of the state,” he explained.
On the peace treaty with Israel, Sisi adopted a different narrative from other former and current presidential candidates, who usually voice major concerns regarding Egypt’s contentious relationship with Israel.
“The peace treaty is stabilized in the minds of Egyptians, there is no playing with the issue as long as others, all others, respect our borders,” he asserted.
The army’s strongman adopted an emotional tone when addressing issues of poverty, especially when he discussed the poor and their needs.
“I’m part of the Egyptian people, and I’m with the poor. I’m not saying that I’m with the poor to play with their emotions, I’m with the poor because I have heard their voice of suffering years ago,” he said.
He added “I always say, if I have US$100 million, I would do this and that for them. I don’t like money, I really don’t like it, except if it is going to make people happy.”
On his plans for Egypt’s foreign policy, Sisi said he adopts a no-enemy policy, due to the changing circumstances of the new world order, where competition, not war and animosity, controls relationships between countries.
Referring to his visit to Russia, he explained that “The world is diverse now, and it allows relationships between countries to also be more diverse without polarization. Egypt’s interests need that, because Egypt’s problems are too big, so we need whoever can help us to help. Opposing others is not part of my ideology. As long as others are going to respect Egypt and its independence, we will respect them. We do not have a hidden agenda.”