For the sixth time since taking office — five of which have been to participate in the high-level meetings of the UN General Assembly — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is visiting the US. He hopes to use this latest visit to deliver important messages to the regional and international powers, as well as to Egypt itself.
There is no doubt that the president has a full agenda of meetings. El-Sisi will meet with the leaders of Jordan, the UAE, Lebanon and 13 European countries, including France, Italy, Cyprus, Croatia, Portugal and Norway, as well as the president of South Africa, the UN secretary general and the presidents of international organizations such as the World Bank. These meetings will be used to send the message that Egypt maintains its position in the world and is the cornerstone of many issues in the Middle East region and beyond.
Sources have confirmed that El-Sisi is also expected to meet with his American counterpart Donald Trump to build on the work done in the framework of promoting bilateral cooperation between the two countries, as well as discussing the regional and international matters of common interest and, most importantly, the fight against terrorism, illegal immigration and the situations in Syria, Libya and Yemen. No matter how aggravated the situation between the two countries becomes, they still share many common principles and interests.
Since Trump took office, US-Egypt relations have witnessed some ups and downs due to Cairo’s support of the Palestinian and Syrian peoples. However, these relations were strengthened again when Washington released a frozen batch of aid and engaged its troops in the Bright Star 2018 military exercises, hosted by Egypt from Sept. 8 to 20 at the Mohammed Najib military base.
El-Sisi’s speech before the UN General Assembly, which is scheduled for Tuesday, will also carry many messages. The first will be about Egypt’s attempt to develop a comprehensive and complete road map to solve every crisis in the region. Sources say the speech will highlight Egypt’s explicit will to extend its hand to all states sharing its vision of peace, prosperity and development.
“El-Sisi’s speech before the UN General Assembly, which is scheduled for Tuesday, will also carry many messages”
His most concrete message will be about the Palestinian situation. According to some leaks, El-Sisi will stress Egypt’s policy, restating his belief in the right of return for refugees and the establishment of a unified Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. El-Sisi will reiterate the categorical rejection of any attempt to make Abu Dis the capital of Palestine, and will condemn those countries whose Israeli embassies have been moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Although this position has triggered American anger before, El-Sisi is expected to repeat it in his speech and maybe even before Trump himself.
Regarding the situation in Syria, the message of the president will focus on the need for a political solution that all Syrians agree upon, and that preserves the unity of the Syrian state and protects its institutions, while expanding its social and political base to include all of Syrian society.
El-Sisi will also discuss Egypt’s position on the Libyan crisis. He is expected to stress Cairo’s demand for a political settlement and insistence that he will not allow any attempts to tamper with the Libyan state’s unity and safety. Egypt will continue working with the UN to reach a political settlement based on the Skhirat Agreement, inspired by the suggestions Libyans have made during their meetings in Cairo in recent months.
El-Sisi will also talk about the need to confront terrorism, as well as the states and organizations that support and enable it. This matter will take up a major share of his General Assembly speech and his one-on-one meetings. He will highlight the relentless war Egypt is waging to eradicate terrorism, adding that he is fully committed to confronting and eradicating it wherever it exists.
He is also expected to reiterate Egypt’s need for a modern nation state project founded on the principles of citizenship, equity, rule of law and human rights, and capable of decisively confronting sectarian, factional, racial and tribal violations.
The fact that El-Sisi’s visit to the US coincides with the pastoral trip of Pope Tawadros II sends an important message to those who have tried to start sectarian strife lately; especially the terrorist groups that have attempted to destabilize Egypt’s security and political and social situations. The Pope’s meetings with the Egyptian community in the US and the displaced Copts, his support to the political leadership, and his demands for a good reception for the president during his visit should send a clear message to Egypt and the rest of the world.
Egypt, with its Christians and Muslims, stands against any sedition attempt. They also represent clear proof that all Egyptians’ goals have become one: To establish a modern and developed state, where all people are equal.