Monday, October 05, 2015

WAR ON ISIS - Egyptian President's Comments

"Egypt’s president on fighting Islamic State, U.S. relations" PBS NewsHour 9/28/2015


SUMMARY:  Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi sits down with chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner to discuss the pardoning of Al Jazeera journalists, whether Egypt will step up military action against the Islamic State, President Bashar al-Assad’s future in Syria, the government crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and the strength of the relationship between his nation and the U.S.

MARGARET WARNER (NewsHour):  Mr. President, thank you for joining us.

This past week, the big news was that you released 100 political prisoners, including two prominent Al Jazeera journalists.  Was the timing of that dictated by the fact you were coming here to the U.N. General Assembly, to quiet all the international criticism there has been of that?

PRESIDENT ABDEL-FATTAH EL-SISSI, Egypt (through interpreter):  The idea is very simple.  Once the legal procedures are over and there is a possibility for me to intervene and to issue a pardon, I didn’t hesitate.

MARGARET WARNER:  In your system, does a legal pardon mean that you have concluded that the charges — that they were innocent of the charges?

PRESIDENT ABDEL-FATTAH EL-SISSI (through interpreter):  Once those are over, the legal party allows the president to intervene to bring an end to this issue and to this legal issue.

MARGARET WARNER:  Well, now there are still 18 journalists being held, and, by conservative estimates, 20,000 or more political prisoners, many of whom had been brought in on what are said to be trumped-up terrorism charges.

Could you act and will you act as swiftly once the legal process is over?

PRESIDENT ABDEL-FATTAH EL-SISSI (through interpreter):  It is very important to stop at the word of under detention.

There is no legal formality that allows me to do so, but there are court procedures force that we can deal with these cases.

MARGARET WARNER:  So, the big issue here at the U.N. General Assembly is going to be the fight against Islamic State, and, in particular, focused on Syria right now.

Now, the anti-ISIL coalition, of which Egypt is a member, you have been at it for a full year, and yet ISIS has grown, if anything, more powerful.  Something like 30,000 new fighters, foreign fighters, have entered Syria.  Why is that?

PRESIDENT ABDEL-FATTAH EL-SISSI (through interpreter):  It’s the idea that we can fight ISIS only militarily.  This means the strategy is incomplete.  We need a holistic approach that would include security dimensions, an economic dimension, social and cultural dimensions as well.

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