CAIRO: In the second part of his interview with the Sky News Arabia television channel on Monday, presidential candidate Abdel Fatah al-Sisi pledged to protect Arab countries, and said winning the presidency would be like “sitting on fire,” due to the “terrorism” that increased under the rule of former President Mohamed Morsi, who he helped to oust from power.
The former army chief said he gave Morsi the opportunity to communicate with extremist groups that had settled in the Sinai, to stop their violence, but he found the matter only worsened.
“The chance was a year,” Sisi said, adding that the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology calls for “violence, murder and destruction.”
Asked about how the increased number of army troops in the Sinai could violate the Camp David accords, Sisi responded that the Israeli side understands that the troops are there to stop attacks against Egypt and its neighbors.
He added that if it is necessary to amend the Camp David accords, he will.
Talking about the Palestinian issue, Sisi said Egypt’s stance toward the issue “has been clear for 60 years,” it needs a solution that satisfies the Palestinians and protects their future. He said he would speak with the Palestinian Authority, not with Hamas, about the issue.
There is a real chance for peace between Israel and Palestine, he added, which would in turn help to stabilize the Middle East.
Sisi said that Arab cooperation would guarantee the protection of Arab countries, and praised the support offered by the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to Egypt.
He also said he wishes for military training between the Arab countries, and that Arab national security “concerns us.”
Concerning tense relations with Qatar, he said Egypt did not start the disputes with Qatar, but it respects the country nonetheless.
“We respect others and we do not interfere into their affairs so they should also respect and not interfere in our affairs,” he said. ”No one can interfere in Egypt’s affairs.”
Sisi said the Syrian crisis should be solved peacefully as Syria has now become a hotbed of “terrorism.”
Egypt should develop its relations with all countries, he continued, but not at the expense of other countries, referring to Egyptian relations with Russia not coming at the expense of U.S. relations. He said any dispute with the U.S. administration is due to its hasty assessment of Egypt’s situation.
Concerning Ethiopia’s new dam on the Nile River, he said the matter should be studied well, adding that water is a matter of “life or death” for Egyptians. The Ethiopian government has announced it would open its dam in 2015.
“We respect Algeria,” he added, denying news circulating about his intention to strike Algeria.
Sisi also said Hala’ib is an Egyptian territory and there is no dispute with Sudan, and that Egypt exerts much effort to protect its borders with Libya.
“Libya and Sudan are the strategic depth to Egypt,” he said.
Sisi also called upon the Arab League to restore and strengthen its pioneer role. He thanked the Arab countries that helped Egypt during the events of June 30, namely Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait. The three Arab countries announced they would grant Egypt $12 billion after the events.
“The Egyptians will never forget the role of the Arab countries,” he said.
Sisi is widely expected to win the presidential elections slated for May 26 and 27, despite recent polling showing his rival Hamdeen Sabbahi fairing well.