Retired Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former Egyptian army chief who ousted Mohammed Morsi and is now running for president, said President Obama could do more to help fight Islamist terrorism.
In an exclusive interview with Reuters, al-Sisi was asked if he had a message for Obama. “We are fighting a war against terrorism,” he replied.
The White House froze $1.3 billion a year in military aid to Egypt after Moris was ousted in a people’s revolt and the interim government cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The Egyptian army is undertaking major operations in the Sinai so it is not transformed into a base for terrorism that will threaten its neighbors and make Egypt unstable. If Egypt is unstable then the entire region is unstable,” al-Sisi said. “We need American support to fight terrorism, we need American equipment to use to combat terrorism.”
It’s not just the Sinai that’s a big threat, he stressed, but the growing power of jihadis in neighboring Libya.
“The West has to pay attention to what’s going on in the world – the map of extremism and its expansion. This map will reach you inevitably,” he said.
He defended his intervention in the huge 2013 protests as fulfilling the army’s sworn mission to protect the people.
“The more time passes the more the vision gets clearer to everyone. People and the world realize what happened in Egypt was the will of all of the Egyptian people,” al-Sisi said. “The army could not have abandoned its people or there would have been a civil war and we don’t know where that would have taken us. We understand the American position. We hope that they understand ours.”
He also stressed that in his government the question of whether the peace treaty with Israel would hold wouldn’t be a question like it was in the Morsi administration.
“We respected it and we will respect it,” al-Sisi said. “The Israeli people know this … The question of whether we would be committed to the peace treaty is over with.”
And his current thoughts on the Brotherhood? “Unjustified violence towards Egyptians made them not only lose sympathy among Egyptians, but also meant they have no real chance of reconciliation with society.”
Al-Sisi faces one opponents in the May 26-27 election, secular leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, who finished third in the 2012 presidential election with 21 percent of the vote.
More than 100,000 expatriates have already voted. A poll earlier this month found al-Sisi with 72 percent backing, compared to 2 percent supporting Sabahi and 22 percent undecided. Eighty-five percent of respondents said they planned on voting.