Counter-terrorism efforts too defensive says Al-Sisi

29 September 2015

Egypt’s international position increasingly unclear as its president delivers vague speech

  • Egypt calls on Syrian leaders to meet in Cairo to formulate a clear plan
  • Al-Sisi defends his role in Yemen

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi used his address at the UN General Assembly in New York on 28 September to reassert Egypt’s commitment to fighting terrorism across the region.

“Egypt and the Middle East have been, in recent years, confronted with a danger that requires creating brighter prospects and opportunities for youth,” he said, adding that counter-terrorism efforts had, so far, been defensive.

“Alongside those efforts, world leaders need to channel the energy of youth away from extremists and false ideas, and towards a peaceful future.”

Al-Sisi’s speech, which was heavily focused on security, offered little in terms of tangible actions, especially with regards to the Syrian civil war. He called on Syrian leaders to meet in Cairo to formulate a clear plan for a post-war interim period “in accordance with the Geneva Convention”.

Al-Sisi did not clarify his position on the role of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad’s in a post-war Syria, but called on leaders to help “build a democratic country that would preserve the Syrian state and its institutions, as well as protect its diversity and national identity”.


President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, UN General Assembly speech

He also discussed the war in Yemen and defended Egypt’s decision to join Saudi-led forces in their operations against Houthi rebels. “Egypt’s political and military support for Yemen and its government have taken place at Yemen’s request, and stemmed from Egypt’s commitment to preserving Arab national security,” Al-Sisi said.

He went on to say that Egypt has welcomed large numbers of refugees despite the economic burden. “The increasing plight of refugees fleeing from destructive armed conflicts reaffirms the need to work towards resolving these conflicts and confronting the scourge of terrorism, a major aggravating factor,” the president said.

Al-Sisi’s speech, which was heavy on rhetoric, concluded by saying: “Through [its] nomination to a non-permanent seat in the Security Council for the coming two years, Egypt [aspires] to enhance its role in consolidating international peace and security.”

Egypt President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s lack of clarity on several key issues  


  • No clear position on Bashar al-Assad’s role in a post-war Syria
  • Refers to the “scourge of terrorism” as a major aggravating factor in the current refugee crises; describes refugees in Egypt as an economic burden, but does not mention Egypt’s plans and whether refugee numbers will be limited or increased


  • Defends Egypt’s involvement in Yemen and says it took place at Yemen’s request


  • Offers no political position on the fight against terrorism apart from Egypt’s domestic battle with militants affiliated with jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in Northern Sinai and recent air strikes in Libya


  • Uses the new Suez Canal as an example of Egypt’s readiness to press ahead with economic diversification; mentions Egypt’s economic development roadmap, which was launched in March this year
  • It is understood Al-Sisi is meeting with several World Bank and IMF officials this week to discuss several loans, which are likely to be finalised during an IMF visit to Egypt – scheduled for the first quarter of 2016

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