Last week the Coordination Committee of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) endorsed the joint nomination of Egypt and the European Union (EU) to chair the organisation. The move honours Egypt’s efforts to combat terrorism and opens the door for more cooperation with the EU in the field.
Commenting on the endorsement, the Foreign Ministry said the new position is confirmation of the appreciation of the GCTF of the prominent role played by Egypt in countering terrorism on the regional and international levels and its constant efforts to do so.
Alaa Abed, first deputy to the president of the Arab Parliament and head of its counter-terrorism and extremism committee, said the endorsement was an acknowledgement of the successes that Egypt has achieved in combating terrorism on the national and international levels.
He said in a statement that Egypt presented a unique example of combating international terrorism.
Casting light on Egypt’s expected role during its term as a co-chair of the forum, the Foreign Ministry stated that the country intends to build on the special expertise it has gained in the field of counter-terrorism in order to implement the CTGF’s Strategic Vision 2021-31.
“Egypt will work on boosting the effectiveness of the international system to fight terrorism and back the efforts of member states to implement the UN global counter-terrorism strategy, in addition to enhancing attention to the African continent and to the needs of the developing countries,” the ministry statement said.
Egypt is a founding member of the 30-member GCTF that was established in 2011. Its mission is to reduce the vulnerability of people worldwide to terrorism by mobilising expertise and resources to prevent, combat, and prosecute terrorist acts and counter incitement and recruitment to terrorism.
It carries out its mission in coordination with UN agencies and regional and international organisations.
The joint bid to chair the GCTF was first raised at meetings of an EU working party on terrorism in October and November last year. It was proposed by France as the current head of the EU Council’s rotating presidency in January.
Egypt and the EU will succeed Canada and Morocco as co-chairs. For Egypt, the chairmanship will start in March next year and end in March 2025, while the EU will assume office in September this year until September 2024.
The GCTF has five working groups. Egypt has been co-chairing, along with the EU, the working group whose mission is the anti-terrorism capacity-building of the East African states since 2017. From 2011 to 2017, Egypt and the US co-chaired the Criminal Justice and Rule of Law working group.
Last year, Egypt took part in various meetings co-chaired with the EU including a workshop on “Strengthening Civil Society: National and Regional Approaches to Dialogue and Community Resilience in East Africa” in March.
The workshop provided recommendations for various stakeholder groups, including civil society, women, and youth among others, on how best to engage in dialogue and resilience building in the region.
In September, Egypt also took part in a fourth regional meeting on “the nexus between terrorism and transnational organised crime (TOC)”, one of the key targets of the working group in 2021-22.
Egypt has also been active outside the GCTF, where other efforts to combat terrorism have included issuing the second national report on state efforts to combat terrorism during 2021 and making it available in Arabic and English to all Egyptian missions abroad and in foreign missions in Egypt.
The report casts light on efforts made to combat terrorism throughout 2021 and the role that Egypt has played on the regional and international levels.
On the international level, Egypt took part in the UN Second Counter-Terrorism Week in June last year, during which it took part in the seventh review of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS).
The document is reviewed every two years, making it a living document attuned to member states’ counter-terrorism priorities. Egypt was keen to include the priorities of the Arab and African countries in the document.
As part of the Global Coalition to Defeat the Islamic State, Egypt took part in a ministerial meeting held in Rome in June last year and other periodical meetings that aim to boost the efforts of member states.
On the African level, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri chaired the African Union’s (AU) Peace and Security Council’s virtual session on countering extremist ideology and terror finance in November last year. He underlined the necessity of intensifying coordination between the African countries to eliminate all forms of terrorism. Egypt assumed the rotating presidency of the council in November.
The inauguration of the Sahel and Sahara Counter-Terrorism Centre in Cairo in November was proof on the ground of how Egypt is working towards urgent cooperation in Africa to combat cross-border terrorism.
The purpose of the centre is to coordinate the efforts of the members of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States and to exchange information that will help them confront terrorism.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 14 April, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.