Egypt was chosen to lead the UN Security Council (UNSC) counter-terrorism committee, the Egyptian foreign ministry said on Saturday, as well as two of the council’s subsidiary bodies.
Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement emailed to the press that the UNSC selected the heads of subcommittees on Friday evening and “Egypt has been selected” to preside over the committee established by resolution 1373 for the year 2001, in the aftermath of the devastating September 11 attacks.
The fight against terrorism has been high on Egypt’s agenda this year and the Egyptian state has actively addressed the matter during international events and high-level talks.
Egypt is part of the U.S.-led coalition that is waging strikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, and has pledged to fight terrorism both inside Egypt in the Sinai desert and in several neighbouring countries.
In February, Egypt’s air force launched air strikes in Libya, which it says hit militant targets, after the beheading of 20 Coptic Egyptians inside Libya at the hands of militants believed to belong to the Libyan division of ISIS.
In March, Egypt participated in the Saudi-led coalition which launched military operations against the Houthis in Yemen on March 26, after the Shia rebel movement made advances onto the Yemeni south.
Abu Zeid said Egypt was also selected to preside over two sanctions committees, one on Iraq, established as per resolution 1518 in 2003 and one on The Congo, based on resolution 1533 for the year 2004.
In October, for the fifth time Egypt became a non-permanent member at the UNSC. It’s term starts January 2016 and lasts until the end of 2017.
Abu Zeid said Egypt’s selection to lead these three committees has “important” connotations, reflecting the trust of UNSC members in Egypt’s ability to take the responsibility of managing these “important committees”, especially the permanent members: the U.S., the United Kingdom, China, Russia and France.
He added that Egypt intends to lead these committees with “professionalism and responsibility,” and in full consultation with committee members.
Egypt has recently attracted plenty of public attention because of its actions in the UN, after it voted in support for an Israeli bid for membership in a UN committee.
In October, Egypt voted for Israel’s membership in the United Nation’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, stirring much controversy on social media. Reacting to the mounting criticism, officials explained that it was inevitable because the vote also included three Gulf Countries, which Egypt wished to support. All other Arab countries abstained from the vote.
Earlier this year, Egypt and Israel were part of an impasse also at the UN, after talks on the UN’s Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which aims to prevent the “wider dissemination of nuclear weapons” failed to reach consensus last May.
Tensions built up ahead of the UN conference after Egypt was adamant about reaching a regional, legally binding agreement to create a nuclear-free zone by which all Middle East states must abide. According to liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israel objected to a deadline proposed by Egypt.
Following the NPT talks in May, the U.S. said states, particularly Egypt set “unrealistic” conditions, while Egypt accused the U.S. and other delegations of deliberately trying to “hinder” efforts to create a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.
By Hend Kortam