Sisi's participation in UNGA's meetings receives wide applause in political, economic circles

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 25 Sep 2018

Political and economic experts say Sisi's meetings with world leaders helped a lot in explaining Egypt's vision on counter-terrorism and economic reform issues

Parliamentary delegation at UNGA
Several members of the Egyptian parliamentarian delegation in the United Nations General Assembly meetings, including high profile MP Mohamed Abu El-Enein (3rd from right) (Photo: Ahram Online)

Since he came to office in May 2014, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has been keen to participate in the annual meetings of the United Nations General Assembly's meetings.

President El-Sisi left Egypt on 21 September for New York to participate in the 73rd session of UN General Assembly meetings for the fifth time.

Political analyst Hassan Abu Taleb told Ahram Online that President El-Sisi views the meetings of the UN general assembly in New York as a unique opportunity to communicate with world leaders, build relations and activate Egypt's foreign policy.

"The dramatic developments in Egypt over the last seven years left the country a little bit isolated from what is going on in the world, a fact which has negatively affected its pioneering roles in world politics, particularly in the Arab world and Middle East," Abu Taleb said.

Abu Taleb said El-Sisi's active participation in the UN general assembly meetings has helped Egypt a lot in opening channels with Western countries, particularly Germany, which adopted hostile positions in reaction to the removal of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

"But now and thanks to an active foreign policy and an ultimate keenness to participate in the annual UN General Assembly meetings, the picture has completely changed," Abu Taleb said, arguing that "Egypt has now excellent relations with most Western countries, and was able to a large extent to recover prominent position on the world stage."

"I want to refer to Germany in particular which has helped Egypt a lot in rebuilding the energy sector,” he said.

On Monday, President El-Sisi met with US President Donald Trump. It was the fourth meeting between the two leaders in two years. 

"This shows how Egyptian-American relations have improved in a relatively short period of time," Abu Taleb said, "adding that this is a dramatic shift from the situation when Barack Obama was the President of the US."

Al-Sayed El-Sherif, the deputy speaker of Egyptian parliament, told Ahram Online that El-Sisi's active foreign policy has helped Egypt a lot in recovering its influential regional and political roles on the world stage. 

"Through mutual meetings and mini-summits with world leaders during the annual UN general Assembly, President El-Sisi was keen to re-introduce the image of Egypt as a world peacemaker and a country which is trying to achieve high economic growth and democracy," El-Sherif said.

Hussein Abu Gad, head of the parliamentary group of the "Future of Homeland" political party and a member of parliament's economic committee, told Ahram Online that he believes that President El-Sisi's desire to attend the UN General Assembly meetings on a regular basis stems from his high interest in mustering world support for Egypt's economic conditions.

"President El-Sisi believes that these annual UN meetings represent a golden opportunity to explain Egypt's economic conditions and inform leaders, particularly in Western circles, of economic reforms," Abu Gad said, adding that El-Sisi's meetings with head of the IMF Christine Lagarde was highly important to reviewing the latest progress on implementing Egypt's economic reform agreement with the IMF.

El-Sisi also met on Monday with Jim Young Kim, President of the World Bank; with Donald Tusk, head of the European Council; Irna Solberg, prime minister of Norway , and Sebastian Kurz, chancellor of Austria.

He also held a very important meeting with members of the American Chamber of Commerce which is playing a big role in strengthening economic partnership between Egypt and the United States.

Mohamed Abu El-Enein, a high-profile Egyptian businessman and honorary chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) described El-Sisi's meetings in the annual UN General Assembly meetings as highly important in explaining Egypt's role in fighting terrorism, and promoting peace in the Middle East.

Abul-Enein, who participated in a number of events held on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, clarifying the Egyptian President’s achievements and Egypt's positions on issues related to the Middle East and the Arab world.

Abul Enein first participated in Nelson Mandel Peace Summit, at the presence of Mourad Wahba, the assistant secretary-general of the United Nations, and where El-Sisi gave a speech to the peoples of the world, expressing his pleasure to participate in the summit which coincides with the centenary of the birth of the late great African leader.

Abul Enein seized the summit to show members of PAM a documentary about the achievements realized by Egypt during the first 4-year term of El-Sisi in office in all fields such as infrastructure, industry, and electricity, as well as his efforts to promote social protection and education reform programmes.

Abul-Enein also spoke on the issues of terrorism, referring to the defeats suffered by Daesh in Iraq, Syria, and its affiliate in Sinai.

"The United Nations and the Security Council should take all resolutions necessary to penalize states sponsoring or financing terrorism or hosting its leaders who were convicted of terrorism crimes," Abul-Enein said, adding that "the UN must also impose sanctions against these states and that its leaders must be put on trial before the International Criminal Court.."

"The International community must support Egypt's vision that is based on the argument that the political vacuum caused by the collapse of a number of states in the Middle East has given terrorist movements a fertile ground to spread and expand," he said.

In particular, Abul-Enein emphasized the importance of the courageous initiative of El-Sisi in the field of reforming religious discourse and entrusting the moderate Sunni Islam institution of Al-Azhar to play a leading role in this respect.

He also pointed to President El-Sisi's initiative for holding dialogue conferences with Egypt's young people to play a greater role in decision-making.

Abul-Enein also spoke on Egypt's mediation efforts in the Syrian crisis.

"Egypt has made mediation among opposition factions which have contributed to containing tension in Syria," Abul-Enein said, adding that Egypt has received more than 500,000 Syrian refugees in recent years.

“They were not transferred to refugee camps, but rather they were allowed to enjoy the same rights of Egyptian citizens," Abul-Enein said.

MP Nadia Henry told Ahram Online that El-Sisi's participation in the UNGA meetings is very important in explaining Egypt's vision on Middle East's crises.

"Egypt is very eager to tell the world that there should be political solutions for these crises and that all efforts should be exerted to stem the tide of terrorism in this regime and to cut all lines of support to terrorist movements," Henry said.

"El-Sisi's meetings with a large number of world leaders and prominent politicians in just two days aim to send a message to the international community: that all efforts should be exerted to bring peace to the Middle East, particularly in Palestine, Libya and Syria," she continued.

"We should not allow terrorists to gain any foothold and the UN should play a greater role in stripping terrorist movement with all kinds of weapons in order to stem their malicious spread in this region," Henry concluded.

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