Former Egypt FM: Strained relations with US due to insistence on including Islamists in politics

Former Muslim Brotherhood leader says the organization communicated with extremist groups in Sinai and set up training camps with them when former president Morsi was in power.

September 3, 2014 18:13
2 minute read.
US SECRETARY of State John Kerry (left) meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Cairo

US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Cairo.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Nabil Fahmy, the former Egyptian foreign minister and a previous ambassador to the US, said that relations between Cairo and Washington remain strained because of the US’s insistence of allowing Islamists to participate in the political process.

In an Egyptian television interview on Sunday evening, Fahmy said that “the Americans have not appropriately learned the lesson of dealing with terrorism” and that they “contacted us constantly in order to integrate streams of political Islam into the political process,” the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry al-Youm reported.

He added, however, that Egypt “pursued the will of the people” and did not give in to outside pressure.

Fahmy also said that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi would give a historic speech at this year’s UN General Assembly session to be held later this month in New York.

Egypt-US relations have deteriorated since Sisi came to power in a coup, which the Obama administration criticized. The US has sought to pressure Cairo to ease its clampdown on the Brotherhood – by freezing aid and weapons deliveries.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Habib, a former deputy Brotherhood leader, who left the group last year in protest at its post- Mubarak policies, said that the Brotherhood communicated with extremist groups in Sinai and set up training camps with them, after president Mohamed Morsi was elected in June 2012, the El-Watan newspaper reported on Monday.

In related news, Maj.-Gen. Sayed Safiq, assistant to the interior minister, said he discussed the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood members who fled Egypt with Interpol, the Egyptian state news agency MENA reported on Monday.

Some Gulf states allied with Egypt against the Brotherhood have already arrested members from Egypt.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have arrested two members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood at Cairo’s request for committing violence in Port Said before fleeing abroad, Egypt’s prosecutor’s office said in March.

The arrests were the first reported cases of Egypt’s Gulf allies detaining members of the Islamist group on its behalf.

Egypt designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organization in December, escalating a state crackdown on the organization.

Hundreds of members and supporters have been killed, and thousands more, including the movement’s leadership, are in jail.

Separately, Sisi met with a visiting US congressional delegation on Tuesday, which ended its visit and departed on Wednesday after discussing regional and domestic issues.

Sisi told the delegation that developments in the region confirmed Egypt’s policy, and its warnings to the West about the spread of terrorism in the Middle East. He said that the West should support moderate countries in the region that are fighting against this threat, Egyptian media reported.

On Wednesday, a policeman was shot dead in El-Arish in Sinai, the Aswat Masriya website reported.

Amidst ongoing military operations against terrorists in Sinai, an attack on a convoy killed 11 members of the country’s security forces in the Peninsula on Tuesday, security and medical sources said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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