Arab states should stand together against 'foreign intervention', Egypt's Sisi tells Arab League

Mariam Mecky , Menna Alaa El-Din , Wednesday 29 Mar 2017

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (seated) attends the 28th Ordinary Summit of the Arab League at the Dead Sea, Jordan March 29, 2017 Reuters

Arab states should take a firm stance in rejecting any foreign intervention in their domestic affairs, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said in his speech at the Arab League Summit on Wednesday.

During his opening address, delivered at the Jordanian Dead Sea resort of Sweimeh, El-Sisi asked Arab leaders to take “a definitive and clear stance of repudiation of any foreign intervention in our affairs.”

“It’s unfortunate that some powers have been exploiting the region’s unprecedented conditions to boost their influence and control in the region,” El-Sisi said.

He added that any attempt to expand sectarianism won’t succeed in the countries of the Arab region.

The Egyptian president spoke about the challenges facing the region, shedding light on the fight against terrorism and the need for political solutions in countries ravaged by war.

"In recent years, the challenges have been concentrated on the outbreak of terrorism and the weakening of the real structure of the national state,” he said.

El-Sisi indicated that national institutions were enfeebled, leading to a loss of stability and the rise of sectarian tensions and foreign intervention in the Arab states’ domestic affairs.

'Comprehensive solution' to terrorism 

El-Sisi also said that fighting terrorism - which he likened to a disease - was to be handled in a comprehensive manner.

“The solution has to be comprehensive, starting with a military solution and working on enhancing the economic and living conditions in our countries and battling extremism through bolstering the roles of religious and educational institutes to be headed by Egypt’s Al-Azhar,” he said, describing counter-terrorism as not “easy”.

He maintained his country’s support for political solutions in several states, including Syria, Libya, Yemen, while stressing that the Palestinian cause was still top priority.

“A political solution to the Syrian conflict is the only way to meet the aspirations of the Syrian people,” El-Sisi said, hailing the resumption of Geneva talks after a hiatus of almost a year.

He said that the Libyan crisis, which is approaching its sixth year, should also be resolved through a political solution.

“Despite the 2015 Skhirat agreement, the conflict still continues over the means of executing the deal,” El-Sisi said, encouraging “friends of Libya” to help reconcile the conflicting sides.

He added that Egypt has spared no effort in trying to help Libyan factions reach a consensus.

Cairo has hosted several meetings with rival Libyan factions in recent months to push for discussions that could end the country’s ongoing crisis.

It has repeatedly announced its commitment to supporting a political solution in Libya, calling on the Libyan parliament and Presidential Council to reject any foreign intervention and commit to reaching a political solution.

'Dark forces expanding'

El-Sisi said that the “dark forces” had also extended to Yemen, which still suffers from sectarian polarization.

The Egyptian President said that Cairo supports Yemen’s legitimate institutions and provides humanitarian assistance, while affirming freedom of navigation in Bab El-Mandab Strait, the southern gateway between the Red Sea, the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden

Egypt has been aiming to strengthen its capabilities in the face of threats in the Red Sea region, especially in the vicinity of Bab Al-Mandeb, given the deterioration of security in Yemen.

The Yemeni civil war broke out in September 2014 when Houthi rebels, who are Shia, took over the capital Sanaa and overthrew the country's government.

Pro-government forces have retaken large parts of Marib province from the Iran-backed Houthis since Saudi Arabia launched a coalition to intervene in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in March 2015.

Egypt has been participating with naval forces in the Saudi-led military coalition since it was launched.

'Primary cause'

“The Palestinian issue remains the main and primary case for the Arab League to resolve,” EL-Sisi said.

Egypt aims to reach a peaceful and just decision to establish a Palestinian state with 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital, he stressed.

El-Sisi added that Cairo is working with all parties to revive the peace process.

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry launched his final peacemaking bid after US-backed talks between the two sides collapsed in 2014 over issues that included Israeli settlement-building in the occupied territories and Palestinian refusal to accept Israel's demand to recognise it as a Jewish state.

Palestine has been a key point on the agenda of the Arab League Summit since US President Donald Trump indicated his willingness to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and accept a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, assuming both sides agree it. Trump's stance breaks with decades of US policy on the Palestine issue.

"Joint Arab cooperation is the way forward to resolve all issue," El-Sisi concluded.

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