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Sisi talks counter-terrorism at UN General Assembly

In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivered a brisk speech on Wednesday, focusing primarily on his ideas about domestic development, regional security concerns, and his proposed counter-terrorism policies.

Delivered in Arabic, Sisi’s address to the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York underscored the terrorist threats facing Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Palestine.

The former Minister of Defense repeatedly mentioned the emergence of a “New Egypt.” Sisi commenced his address with heavy nationalistic rhetoric and continued to insert patriotic comments throughout.

“A New Egypt”

Sisi spoke of his political “roadmap,” stressing that “Egypt had undergone two revolutions,” along with a new presidential election. He also stated that the country is presently gearing-up for parliamentary elections, which according to the provisions of the 2014 Constitution (Article 230), were scheduled for July of this year. In the absence of said parliament, the executive branch of government has assumed all legislative powers since the military-backed ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013.

Moreover, the president argued that, after two revolutions, “the populace is now the guiding force for state policy.” However, many forms of political opposition protests have now been outlawed by virtue of Presidential Decree 107/2013.

Sisi also spoke of a “comprehensive development plan” which has been laid out for Egypt until the year 2030. The president did not elaborate on this alleged 15+ year plan for the country.

Sisi also promoted his new navigational bypass for the Suez Canal from the speaker’s podium at the UNGA hall. “The new Suez Canal Project is Egypt’s gift to the world.” 

He further promoted this project as providing “development not only for Egypt, but the entire world.” 

Terrorism in Egypt

Sisi alluded to the “extremism” and religious opportunism of the Muslim Brotherhood, without mentioning the group’s name. He went on to state that the Brotherhood and their allies sought to divide the Egyptian populace, and were pushing the country towards “bloody sectarianism.”

“Egypt has been suffering from the plague of terrorism and religious extremism since the 1920s,” he stated, in another reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was established in 1928.

Sisi added that “terrorism does not distinguish between the developed and under-developed countries of the world.” 

Sisi repeated his nationalistic catchphrase, and electoral campaign slogan, “Tahya Masr” (Long live Egypt), to applause from the international audience of statesmen.

Terrorism in Libya

Turning his attention to Egypt’s western border, Sisi spoke of “an Egyptian initiative” based on three points by which he hopes to resolve the ongoing conflict in Libya.

Firstly, Sisi called for “supporting elected officials” and representatives of the Libyan populace.

Secondly, he called for “an end to arms smuggling across Libya’s borders.”

Thirdly, Sisi demanded that there be “no negotiations with terrorists or extremists.” 

Sisi has stuck by this policy of “no negotiations” in his dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood, following the ouster of the group in the summer of last year.

Terrorism in Syria and Iraq

Moving onto another bloody conflict zone, Sisi stated that Egypt supports the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of both the Syrian and Iraqi states. 

This former-military strongman vowed his support to confront the takfiris, terrorists and extremists of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. However, he did not spell out any concrete military or diplomatic measures by which to confront the Islamic State’s growing threat to these two states.

Instability in Palestine/Israel

Like many Egyptian and Arab leaders before him, Sisi called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the internationally recognized borders, prior to Israel’s occupation/annexation of Palestinian lands from June 5, 1967.

Sisi stated that “the absence of Palestinian statehood creates instability and conflict for the region,” adding that militant and extremist elements are using the Palestinian cause to advance their own interests.  

While Sisi may have been alluding to Hamas, he did not mention this group by name.

He indicated that Palestinian statehood would help provide a much needed element of “security and stability” for the Middle East.

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