President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met Monday with a US Congress delegation headed by Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Devin Nunes.
During the meeting, Al-Sisi and the delegation discussed US aid to Egypt and the situation in the Middle East.
Nunes said he was pleased with the release of military aid to Egypt, according to an Egyptian Foreign Ministry statement. He added that a substantial number of US Congress members show a greater understanding of Egypt’s point-of-view, and are interested in enhancing strategic relations with Egypt. He also said that they are looking to assist Egypt in overcoming the challenges it faces, as well as enhancing cooperation to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East.
Over the past 35 years, the US has provided over $40bn worth of military aid to Egypt, second only to Israel, according to an Atlantic Council report. The once familiar Egyptian-US relations have worsened since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. US military aid to Egypt was temporarily suspended, as the US regarded the overthrow as a military coup, sparking the administration’s concerns over democracy in Egypt.
Al-Sisi emphasised the 30 June revolution, which brought him to power, reflected the popular will of the Egyptian people. Egyptians protested against attempts to change the country’s identity and misuse democracy to realise the goals of a certain group, which sought to impose its will at the expense of the nation’s interest, Al-Sisi said.
He added that it is important for friendly countries, particularly the US, to support Egypt politically and economically, and back its efforts to stimulate development and enhance security. These will, Al-Sisi said, have a positive impact on the stability of the entire Middle East.
Delegation members expressed their understanding of the nature of Egypt’s challenges, adding that the measures Egypt has adopted reflect a true will to overcome them and realise the aspirations of the Egyptian people for a better future, the statement said.
The delegation also stressed that Egypt is the cornerstone of Middle Eastern stability, adding that they would continue to support Egypt within the US Congress. They will also provide all possible assistance, including militarily, to help Egypt in its fight against terrorism in Sinai and avert threats to its national security along its western borders.
Al-Sisi stressed that the visit reflects the strong strategic relations that bind Egypt and the US. He added that Egypt is committed to enhancing these relations to serve the interest of both countries and their peoples.
Dr Yousry Al-Ezabawy, a political analyst with the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies, previously told Daily News Egypt that the US is “worried from the close ties between Egypt and Russia”. He said that Al-Sisi’s election as Egypt’s president was initially not welcomed in the US, which explains why most US delegations to Egypt are from legislative authorities and not from official executive authorities.
Al-Ezabawy said the US legislative authorities welcome cooperation with Egypt, and that there is a conflict between both authorities concerning this matter.
The meeting also discussed the situation in Libya. Al-Sisi reiterated that the incomplete NATO operation in Libya negatively impacted the Libyan people who were left to face armed extremist groups without a national army to protect them. He stressed the need to support Libya’s national institutions, as represented by the government, elected parliament and national army, and enable it to extend control over all Libyan territories.
There is a need to halt the influx of money and arms to terrorist and extremist groups in Libya, to prevent the country from turning into a hotbed of extremism threatening the region, Al-Sisi added.
The President underlined the need for the adoption of a comprehensive approach by the international community when dealing with terrorism that encompasses security, economic, social and cultural aspects. He pointed to a number of factors that create an environment encouraging terrorism and extremism, including illiteracy, poverty and a flawed religious discourse. Al-Sisi highlighted that all terrorist and extremist groups derive their thought from the same source that aims to forcefully impose its vision and beliefs on the rest of society.
The meeting was attended by Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry, Director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate Khaled Fawzy, and the US Ambassador to Egypt Robert Beecroft.