CAIRO: Egypt is in “wise, patriotic hands,” but Egyptians must back their president because no leader can make fateful decisions without popular support, former President Hosni Mubarak told Sada el-Balad channel Sunday.
“Egypt has a strong army, capable of protecting its lands and wealth. We should trust our army’s capabilities and stand behind it… the sons of the armed forces, with President [Abdel Fatah] al-Sisi at the forefront today, know exactly the meaning of national sovereignty and the sacredness of national territory,” Mubarak said.
In speech-like attitude using much classical Arabic, and without any interruption from anchor Ahmed Moussa for about five minutes, Mubarak called on people to stand behind Sisi to take Egypt through this “difficult, complex stage,” and emphasized the importance of maintaining ties with “Egypt’s friends.”
Sisi, on the other hand, has hardly spoken of Mubarak, but has praised Mubarak’s long-time Minister of Defense Mohamed Hussein Tantawy. In March, Sisi told the Wall Street Journal that Mubarak’s biggest mistake was staying in power for too long.
Meanwhile, the Cassation Court will decide May 7 whether to retry Mubarak in the case of murdering protesters during the January 25 Revolution. Also, the Council of the European Union decided to extend the current sanctions on the assets of Mubarak and 18 others for another year until March 22, 2016, according to a March statement by the U.K. Parliament.
Mubarak recalls Sadat’s assassination, liberation of Sinai Peninsula
The former president, who ruled Egypt for three decades until he was toppled in a 2011 popular uprising, conveyed pride on the 33rd anniversary of liberating Sinai from the Israeli occupation on April 25, 1982.
“At first, we had to move quickly and firmly control the country so the currents belonging to so-called political Islam do not descend upon the country. Thank God, we thwarted their plan to hijack the state because they targeted seizing the rule of Egypt, not just the assassination of late President Anwar Sadat,” Mubarak said, recalling the aftermath of Sadat’s assassination at the hands of Islamist Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli on October 6, 1981.
Mubarak added that his biggest challenge was concerns that Israel would not commit to its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt after Sadat’s death. In March 1982, one month before Israel was due to return the occupied territories in Sinai to Egypt, “invented the story” that Taba does not belong in Egypt’s historical borders, Mubarak recalled, adding that Israel wanted to treat Taba like Syria’s occupied Golan Heights and keep it under any pretext.
Israel’s intention behind the story, Mubarak said, was that its withdrawal from Sinai be delayed, but he demanded the withdrawal from all but Taba for it would go to international arbitration.
“For four years it eluded arbitration. But my position was clear and open: we will not relinquish one inch of the land of Egypt. I am saying this for the sake of history, because some people came after that and tried to control the country and let go of a part of Sinai,” Mubarak told Sada el-Balad.
Rumors spread during the one-year rule of President Mohamed Morsi that he would let Palestinians live in Sinai, but he denied the allegations.
“Even after the ruling [favoring Egypt in 1988,] Israel tried to evade executing it, but I was very patient, to the fullest extent, until they withdrew from Taba on March 19, 1989,” Mubarak said.
“On that day, I hoped that President Sadat would raise the flag himself, because he made the decision of war and peace and paid his life as a price to liberate the land.”