Attempts to create strife and discord between Egypt and Saudi Arabia will not succeed, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi told Saudi Arabia lifestyle magazine Arrajol, which has designated El-Sisi its "Man of the Cover.”
In an exclusive interview, El-Sisi spoke to the monthly magazine about the country’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, his vision on terrorism, and domestic affairs, including Egyptian youth.
The interview comes nearly two months after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Egypt for the first time as crown prince in March.
“I don’t think any attempt at defamation would succeed,” El-Sisi said, describing his relationship with the Saudi leadership and King Salman as “very good, with a respectful understanding.”
El-Sisi said he valued the support of “the brotherly countries of the Gulf” during the interview, citing them as one of the reasons "Egypt was able to overcome our crisis," despite “all the negative efforts exerted to obstruct it."
In the last year, relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia have improved, with the latter reaffirming its pledge to be a key backer of Egypt, providing billions of dollars in aid, grants, oil products and cash deposits to help the Egyptian economy since 2013.
El-Sisi won a second term as president in an election in March, and is being sworn in for his second term in front of parliament on Saturday.
Solving terrorism 'should not be limited to security’
The Egyptian president spoke about his vision on terrorism, stressing that a full elimination of terrorism depends on other factors than just security and military confrontation.
“The issue also needs a real development,” he said, adding that accomplishing peace in the region would help in removing from terrorism of one of the subterfuges that it has always taken advantage of.
He added that it was time to solve a comprehensive and pivotal issue for Arabs, the Palestinian cause, through establishing the Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital.
He described terrorism which strikes both Arab and Western capitals as “a dangerous challenge which needs major and joint efforts and real determination,” adding that the situation in Egypt in regard to terrorism has improved significantly.
“Stability has been achieved in Egypt in comparison to the situation in the past. I’m not the only one who says this; anyone following up on the situation in Egypt can clearly say it,” he said.
Egypt launched counter-terrorism military campaign Operation Sinai 2018 earlier this year, targeting terrorist organisations in north and central Sinai, parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert.
Sinai 2018 follows extensive nationwide campaigns by the state's apparatuses aiming to eliminate terrorism and consolidate security and stability since 2014.
Stabilising the state and youth awareness
El-Sisi said that “stabilising the Egyptian state and foiling attempts at bringing about the fall of the state” is the top priority. He also said that he was putting his hopes on the awareness of Egyptian youth.
“They need a chance, and the political leadership should provide it,” he said, adding that he never gets vexed by Egyptian youths who oppose him, describing them as “his children.”
Since 2016, the president has chaired several rounds of a national youth conference, which aims to engage youth people through the Presidential Leadership Programme.
In October 2016, El-Sisi announced the formation of a committee to review the cases of youth activists detained in political cases.
Since then, hundreds of prisoners, some jailed for breaching the 2013 protest law, have been released, including some 332 released last week.