Visit of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)
On the 9th of December 2015, H.E. Ambassador Dr. Ezzat Saad, ECFA Executive Director, received a delegation from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), headed by Major General “Arthur David Gawn”, Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of UNTSO, at his request for a meeting with ECFA’s Executive Director to discuss a number of topics.
At the invitation of ECFA’s Executive Director,the meeting was attended by Ms. Judy Hylton, UNTSO Senior Advisor/Public Information Focal Point, Lieutenant Colonel Alexandre Viden, Chief of UNTSO Liaison Office to Cairo (LOC), Major General Mr. Muhammad Ibraheam Al-Duwairy, Expert of Palestinian – Israeli affairs and Dr. Jamal Yousuf ECFA’s Member, at the invitation of ECFA’s Executive Director.
At the meeting, the following issues were addressed:
– The increasing role of armed groups in Sinai and the scope of their affiliation with the Islamic State Organization.
– The extent to which the impact, caused by the dangerous situation and terrorism in Sinai,on “Camp David” Accords signed by Egypt and Israel, and the interest of Egypt’s Authorities in augmenting its military presence in Sinai in order to curb the spread of those jihadist groups and deny them access to South Sinai.
– Egyptian role in resolving the existing Syrian conflict.
– Boosting Egypt’s role in sustaining regional security.
– Means of distinguishing between “good” and “bad” Muslims.
– Role of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in the current political process in Egypt.
In his review of the points which the delegation had asked to talk about, H.E. Ambassador Dr. Ezzat Saad, ECFA Executive Director, stated the following points:
Those acts of terror are not unique of Sinai, as they take place in various States around the world, and Egyptian Armed Forces military activities in Sinai are proportionate to increased number of terrorist operations in Sinai, and without coordination amongst the regional States surrounding Egypt, as well as with International Organizations, it would be difficult to combat terrorism.He also explained that the battle is a long one and in absence of effective international cooperation, it will be further complicated.
Taking into consideration the permanent presence of UNTSO in AL-QUDS ‘Jerusalem”, as it appears, there is currently no crisis between Egypt and Israel with regard to military response by Egypt’s Army to terrorist attacks in Sinai. To the contrary, there is close coordination with Israel regarding those military activities because obviously it is not in Israel’s own interest to belittle those terrorist operations in Sinai.
The danger posed by all Islamic Organizations, that rely on the use of violence in their activities, such as the Islamic “An-Nussrah Front”, “Muslim Brotherhood (MB)”, and others.The identity reference for those groups is the same as that for Muslim Brotherhood (MB), namely the establishing of “Islamic Caliphate State”. Egypt’s position on Islamic groups is somewhat similar to that of Russia.
In January and June 2015, ECFA hosted two meetings for Syrian opposition in Cairo, as part ECFA’s keenness to reach a solution for the Syrian crisis, in an attempt to express ECFA’s eagerness to draw a “road map”for preserving Syria’s territorial integrity, and to express interest in reaching a speedy solution to Syria’s crisis,considering that it is the Syrian people is the one who pays the price.
The situation that is currently most important in Egypt is the one concerning the respect for the State’s Cultural Heritage of Egypt, and the need to have environments that allow for tolerance, since no single State is immune to what is happening in the region, especially with the increasingly rising role of “Non-State Actors”, who receive technological and financial support from certain Arab States. And as for Iran, he stressed Egypt’s keenness to preserve the interests of Arab States.
Since 1952, Egypt’s Foreign Policy Top Strategic Priority has always been to build an “Arab System for Collective Security” that preserves the independence of the Region as a whole. Egypt has therefore refused to join the “Baghdad Pact” (METO or CENTO), which was formed in 1955 by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey & UK and dissolved in 1979. Egypt has also sent its forces to help Yemen and Algeri again independence, and was a founding member of the “Non-Aligned Movement(NAM)”. Egypt has had previous experiences through the participation of its Troops in the US-led International Coalition formed to liberate Kuwait (1990-1991), and is currently participating in the Saudi-led Coalition that is carrying out a military campaign code named “Operation Storm of Firmness”. The formation of this Coalition was called for by Saudi Arabia to confront the threat posed by “Houthis” in Yemen.
He noted the increasing aspirations of Egyptians after two revolutions of January 25, 2011 and June 30, 2013. He also noted the challenges facing Egypt State, emphasizing the important role of tourism for the revival of Egyptian economy, adding that President Sisi has been working around the clock in a race against time so as for Egypt’s economy to recover, though making numerous international visits to attract support for the economy, highlighting that Egyptians are optimistic about Egypt’s future, and stressing that Egypt’s instability will definitely lead to deterioration of the stability of the entire region.
Dr. Ezzat Saad concluded by emphasizing that the main challenge facing State in Egyptian is “confronting terrorism” and that Egypt is constantly in contact with neighboring States such as Lebanon and Iraq to confront it.
Major General Gawn addressed the following points:
He stated that Egypt-Israel relations with regard to the situation in Sinai are close to a great extent, with the aim of curbing terrorism in Sinai, wondering on the role of Egypt’s Authorities in demolishing the tunnels dug under Egypt-Gaza borders. He also wondered, to what extent the pumping of water through pipes into those tunnels has impacted on the separation between Gaza and Egypt, and what are the consequences of doing so on the demographic change in Sinai, noting the attention given by President Abdul-Fattah El-Sisi to the role of youth in Egypt’s political life.
He then touched on Egyptian Station for Nuclear Energy at al Dabaa, being constructed with the help of Russia, and on the degree of influence that Egypt has in solving Syria’s crisis and the impact of that on the rest of Arab States which are suffering from terrorism such as Iraq and Libya, according to the “domino theory”,
Concluding his speech, he expressed his concerns regarding the rise in frequency of events in AL-QUDS ‘Jerusalem’, naming it the “Third Intifada”.
Ms. Judy Hylton reviewed the following points:
She noted that the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) was established under the provisions of Security Council resolution 50 (1948), with the mission’s main headquarters in Al-Quds ‘Jerusalem’, adding that there are five headquarters for UNTSO’s missions in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria).UNTSO also has an important role in keeping the peace in the region.
She stressed Egypt’s important role in the region and in maintaining its stability, highlighting that Egypt is an important political actor in the region due to the significant influence that Egypt has over resolving the existing crisis in Syria.
Major General Ibraheem Ad-Duwairyaddressed the following points:
Regarding the “Security Situation in Sinai”, he stated that after the situation in Sinai was deteriorated, Egypt opened direct lines of communication with both the Israel Defense Forces(IDF) and the Egyptian parties in Sinai, with the aim of counteract the dangerous attacks carried out by the Jihadist Extremist Militant Group known as “Supporters of the Holy House” or “Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis”. He stated that efforts exerted by Egypt’s Armed Forces, in cooperation with Egypt’s Police Forces and Sinai Tribes’ Elders (Shaikhs), have succeeded in curbing the severity and dangers posed by those terrorist attacks in Sinai, but have not yet achieved the task of completely destroying them, because this would need more time, adding that Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is a “terrorist group”.
As for the peace process in Palestine, he pointed out that all efforts exerted by the US to bring the peace process to a successful completion have failed, especially after the last visit by US Secretary of State “John Kerry”, considering that the “Third Intifada”, is a step towards greater escalation that might lead to explosive operations, even though it started with the Palestinians using knives.
At the political level, he stated that Mr. “Mahmoud Abbass , President of Palestine and current President of Palestinian Authority (PA), has always worked to promote and spread peace in the region, while “Benjamin Netanyahu”, Israel’sPrime Minister, has been obstructing the Peace Process in Palestine. He added that the continuation of Netanyahu’s Policies as such would lead to a greater catastrophe in the Palestine-IsraelCrisis.
Dr. Jamal Youssuf addressed the following points:
He stated that there is no standard for distinguishing between “good” and “bad” Muslims, and that the true Muslim is the one who follows the proper approach of Islam.
He added that Egypt’s People are “lucky” to have Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Power for only one year; because this way they could discover that MB are not the Muslims who are capable of Ruling Egypt.
• He emphasized the important role of youth in Egypt, and stressed that, while implementing the road map, Egypt’s Stateis keen to create employment opportunities for youth in order to include them under the umbrella of Egyptian society.