In statements to the AP, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi clarified Egypt’s position regarding terrorist groups in the region, asserting Cairo’s support in the fight against ISIS in Iraq, and implied it is not just a matter of sending ground troops to Iraq since the Iraqi army can do the job. Rather, he asked for a comprehensive strategy for confronting terrorism.
As for the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned by a court order as a terrorist group, El-Sisi made a link between the group’s failure in power and the revolt of the Egyptians against them, stating that the group is the one that chose confrontation. Nonetheless, he opened the door for Brotherhood followers to participate in political life in the future if they renounce violence. He linked this to the general principle that Egypt is very tolerant of those who did not commit violence and there is a real opportunity for participation.
Personally, I believe these statements are primarily directed to public opinion overseas. The president was going to address the world at the UN in three days and knew well that several countries and organisations – that are influenced by funds from the International Organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood – would attempt to undermine his visit and blame and condemn Egypt’s regime and him personally. It must be appreciated that he decided to undertake this mission amidst a partially hostile atmosphere in order not to leave the global arena vacant of a clear and direct position by Egypt.
I also believe that the greater portion of these statements is directed to European and US public opinion that is currently preoccupied with the war against ISIS. The international media has raised many questions about Egypt’s position regarding the US strategy to defeat ISIS. Egypt expressed reservations about some of the clauses, especially participating in ground forces, arming the Syrian opposition, ignoring a potential role of the Syrian regime, ignoring ideas about the need to allow a political process inside Syria to besiege terrorist groups in certain areas.
The reason why international media raised these questions was not to extract an official response but to raise doubts about Egypt’s commitment to confronting terrorism. This ignores the fact that Egypt is amid a fierce battle against vile terrorism by some at home and many abroad, whose main goal is to destroy the country and enslave the people. Accordingly, President El-Sisi’s statements are a clear and unambiguous response about Egypt’s commitment to fighting terrorist organisations, albeit in a comprehensive framework.
Since Egyptian institutions and people suffered greatly from terrorism – and continue to – at the hands of the Brotherhood and their allies, it is our right to discuss what the president said according to what the AP published: “Brotherhood followers can participate in the future in the political process if they renounce violence.”
The fact is the concept of Brotherhood followers is very opaque; does it mean those who embrace group's doctrine or actual members? And is there data about those who follow Brotherhood as an organisation, and thus an ability to differentiate between followers who renounce violence and those who do not? And which authority can present to us this accurate data about these followers and their varying degrees? And are those allowed to participate in politics the ones who did not commit in any type of violence, or did to some extent but then renounced it superficially in order to pounce on the state but in a different form through the political participation the president is offering in the future?
Many questions rose in my mind when I read these statements, and I believe in the minds of many others, who view what the Brotherhood did – and continues to do – as a threat to the entity of the Egyptian state.
Past experience obligates us as a society and institutions to be more cautious in dealing with all groups that manipulate religion for capricious political and worldly purposes, and to completely reject the possibility that we or our children in the future are deceived by these devious groups – which we all know are amorphous and have covert links to various organisations, states and intelligence agencies most of which wish ill upon Egypt and its people.
I heard President El-Sisi say verbatim, that those (meaning the Brotherhood and its supporters) who harmed Egypt and its people must first make amends with the people, before any talk of official reconciliation with them. Until this moment, no one can say that the Brotherhood is making amends with the people as the group plots against them with the blatant support and assistance of Turkey and others. And its supporters commit criminal acts on a daily basis.
The scourge of secret organisations like the Brotherhood and its supporters is like a global mafia; its clandestine world controls everything, you do not know exactly who the leader is and who is the follower. There may be a public leadership but it is more like a prop or front, and behind the curtain is the secret and clandestine world of the actual leadership who make all the decisions, and no matter what happens we will never find out who the real leaders are.
Currently, many of the group’s public leaders, such as the General Guide and his aides, are behind bars facing trials for serious crimes against the state of Egypt and its people. Many are also fugitives overseas earning the price of treachery and being agents against their country. There is a third type that is unknown to us and we do not know where they are, and thus, we are very doubtful that Brotherhood followers will listen to the voice of reason, faith and patriotism. We are even more unconvinced anyone has renounced violence and therefore should be given a chance to participate in political life. Even more, we are highly skeptical that any of these followers would seriously reconsider their actions against themselves, their people and country, because if they did that they would only have one option – leave this malicious terrorist group that makes them lose their brain, intellect, character, humanity and patriotism.
Only a few have the courage for revision, but that was before usurped power seduced the followers, making them lose sight and insight.