Exclusive: Sisi talks on relations with Saudi Arabia

In an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel, Sisi said that Egyptians opposed the return to the banned Muslim Brotherhood

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President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi praised Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries for supporting Egypt, linking the stability of the most populated Arab country to the rest of the region, and said Egyptians opposed the return to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

“The relationship between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and Egypt and its brothers in the Gulf, has been strong and stable for years,” Sisi, in an exclusive interview to Al Arabiya News Channel, said, noting the need for coordination between Cairo and Riyadh given the “difficult condition” the Arab region was in.

Sisi, who will visit Saudi Arabia on Sunday on an official visit, described ties between Cairo and Riyadh as having “a long history of stability, solidarity and understanding,” and commended Saudi Arabia’s supportive position during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the oil embargo of the same year, and its support for the will of the Egyptian people on the uprising that ousted Islamist President Mohammad Mursi in 2013.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

“Go back to history. When Egypt was facing the aggression of 1956, [Saudi] King Salman was among the fighters,” he said.

“The Gulf States: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait played a huge role in supporting the Egyptian people’s will until today. And this will not be forgotten.”

Sisi said his visit to Saudi Arabia was in order to congratulate Saudi King Salman, especially at a time when the region is going through “difficult conditions.”

When asked about the recent Saudi-brokered reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar, Sisi said: “We are keen on appreciating late [Saudi] King [Abdullah] by respecting his initiative. I want this to be sure to everybody.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi AA
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi AA

Last year, Saudi Arabia brokered reconciliation between Cairo and Doha that was hailed by Riyadh as the opening of “a new page” between the two Arab states.

During the 45-minute interview, Sisi also reiterated the need for a joint Arab force in order to ensure stability in the region.

“When we say a joint Arab force, we don’t mean for attacking, but for defending the security of our countries,” he said. “It is important in the light of the dangers and threats.”

When asked about the Arab countries that could begin working on the initiative, Sisi said: “I think Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. The king of Jordan agreed with the move, as we are in utmost need to execute this initiative at this time.”

“The stability of the Gulf is stability for Egypt,” the Egyptian president added.

Sisi also criticized Turkey, saying it needed to halt its interference in Egypt, adding that Egyptians themselves opposed the return of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, from which Mursi hailed.

On Syria, Sisi said the conflict in the war-ridden country should come to end via a political process and not military means using the example of Libya.

“After the end of the NATO-mission in Libya; they left Libya a hotbed for terrorism and extremism,” Sisi said.

As for Yemen, “the Yemeni problem is too complicated,” the president said.

“To solve this issue, we need to unite and heal the Arab world’s wounds. And this requires complete devotion.”

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