Sisi: Palestine conflict reason for terrorism; no interference in Libya
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: The ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a reason for the existence of terrorism in the region, said President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in a Thursday interview with France 24.

Sisi told the channel any solution to the conflict would have to include guarantees for both Palestine and Israel, “Otherwise, tension will rule.”

Egyptian–mediated talks during the July-August conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza, secured a number of ceasefires. Discussions between the two conflicting parties also took place in Cairo under the auspices of the Egyptian authorities.

Egyptian authorities have introduced tighter security controls in North Sinai along the border with Palestine, following a militant attack in Arish Oct. 24 which killed 31 soldiers and injured dozens more.

“We reject that our land creates a base to threaten its neighbors or a backyard area to attacks against Israel,” said Sisi, mentioned a recent 1 kilometer-wide buffer zone imposed along the border with Rafah. Thousands of residents have been displaced by the zone, and have been promised compensation from the government.

“The buffer zone is a part of the solution,” “There is no full control over the movement of the [extremist] elements and activities [taking place] at this area,” referring to the border area between the Gaza Strip and the Rafah residents.

Sinai-based militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which has claimed its responsibility for many attacks targeting police and army officers in the peninsula, recently declared its allegiance to the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

“Extremist thoughts and what is called political Islam have the same roots. You cannot separate Daesh [ISIS] from what is happening in Libya, from Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis or even from what is taking place in Afghanistan and other many countries,” the president added.

Egypt has not taken part in the ongoing strikes by the U.S.-led coalition fighting the also-called ISIS group, which has controlled wide swathes in Syria and Iraq. Egypt, however, is among the five new countries claimed by the group to fall under its sovereignty.

Libya threat

Egypt’s western borders are also a window of threat to the country’s security, given an ongoing fight between two Islamist militias and a city  declared under IS control in Libya.

Tripoli, where the Egyptian Embassy was targeted this month, is no longer the headquarters of the Libyan government and parliament, which has relocated to Tobruk.

“Once the [Libyan] regime fell, the [NATO] forces left Libya for its fate, to weapons, arms and militias everywhere,” said Sisi. “What Libya needs now is the re-structuring of its institutions.”

He added that Egypt has not interfered militarily in Libya; “if we had directly interfered, I would not hesitate to announce it.”

“But all what we are doing now is to help the National Libyan army that we believe it is capable of securing and protecting Libya.”

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