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Sissi's Address.

Sissi, who as head of the Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) ousted MB leadership member President Muhammad Mursi on July 3, 2013, was elected president in late May 2014 and Saudi Arabia was the first state to back him. Addressing the Sweimeh summit, Sissi called for a comprehensive solution to face radical Islam and terrorism. He said: "We hold our summit amid serious challenges facing the [Arab] region, targeting the chore of Arab nation-states and threatening our people. This requires a strong stance and unity among Arab states to maintain the security of our countries and protect future generations".

Sissi's argument focused on the aim of terrorist groups to destroy the principle of nation-states through weakening state institutions, thus expanding into the region, as sectarian strife continues to endanger citizens' lives. He was referring to Iran and its IRGC - without mentioning names - and the Sunni/Neo-Salafi terror groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Sissi seemed to refer to frequently-reported links between the IRGC and each of ISIS and al-Qaeda as he said: "These terrorist groups do not appear to care much about any sectarian differences when they need mutual co-operation", but they apply sectarian discrimination when they attack and kill fellow Muslims".

Sissi added: "Facing terrorism necessitates military determination as well as economic and human development. We further need to counter extremist thought through education and through empowering our reputable religious institutions, such as [the Cairo based] al-Azhar university [which is the highest and oldest seat of learning in Sunni Islam), to raise awareness of Islam's tolerant teachings and values". In stressing the need for better education, the Egyptian president singled out the role of women in raising their children - "preparing them for qualitative education".

Again referring to Iran without mentioning its name, Sissi warned of "military and political interference in Arab affairs from some powers seeking to take advantage of regional instability". He praised the resumption of the Geneva peace talks on Syria. On Libya, he expressed discontent that the crisis had entered its sixth year. Al-Sisi explained that the Libyan problem persisted. He urged Arab help in finding a way to implement political solutions for Libya reached in 2015, calling for the necessity to continue working on them without foreign interference. He also urged support for political negotiations to end the war in Yemen between the Saudi/GCC-backed government and the IRGC-guided alliance of the Zaidi Shi'ites of the Houthi clan and ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh (who ruled Yemen as a dictator from 1978 to early 2012).

Regarding the Palestine question, Sissi said it will continue to be "our main cause as Arabs, despite the fact that it has remained un-resolved for decades". He added: "Egypt will pursue seeking a fair and comprehensive solution based on the establishment of a Palestinian state in the borders of June 1967 with al-Quds [East Jerusalem] as its capital".

The summit had the participation of leaders from the UN, AU, EU, OIC and the Arab Parliament. In the opening session, Arab Parliament President Mesh'al bin Faham al-Sulami condemned Israel's practices against the Palestinians, saying the Jewish state's new plan was doomed to fail.

Ahead of the Arab summit, Sissi met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Amman. Their discussions centred on Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Sissi also met with Iraqi PM Haidar al-Abadi, expressing support for the on-going military advance against ISIS in the liberation of Mosul. King Salman had separate talks with Abadi, PA President Abbas and other Arab leaders.

The summit's final communique the Arab rulers were ready to work with President Trump on the proposed Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Visiting Trump separately at the White House were President Sissi from April 3, PA President Abbas later in the week, and then King Abdullah-II. King Salman was also invited to the White House later in 2017.
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Publication:APS Diplomat News Service
Date:Mar 27, 2017
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