Egypt is on the frontlines of the global war against terrorism. Positioned at the center of a volatile region, straddling Africa and the Arab world, Egypt is acting both within its borders and internationally to help support and create greater security and stability for Egyptians, the region and the world. Our contributions to countering terrorist threats range from security operations in Sinai and on our border with Libya to intelligence sharing and the elimination of terrorist financing.
In Sinai, Egypt has pursued a multi-phase military operation that has killed and arrested dangerous terrorists, preventing loss of lives and territory. Our armed forces have aggressively sought to destroy underground tunnels that connect Gaza and Sinai. In addition, in 2016 we undertook an operation that led to the killing of Abu Doaa Al-Ansari, the head of the Sinai-based Ansar Beit Maqdis terrorist organization.
As a member of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, we work closely with the U.S. to provide intelligence and eliminate sources of funding and recruitment—in addition to the longstanding commitment to permit U.S. overflights of Egyptian airspace and expedited transit through the Suez Canal.
Egypt is also leading efforts to counter and defeat the distorted ideological roots of terror by calling on the Muslim world to embrace the true values of Islam and to reaffirm and advance the values of tolerance and moderation. President El Sisi is working with Al-Azhar University, the most prestigious center of Islamic learning in the world, to encourage its clergy to reaffirm the true tolerant values of Islam, to bring tolerance and compassion to religious discourse and to root out hateful ideology from Islamic teachings. Egypt was proud to build on this progress with President Trump at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh in May 2017 as well as with Vice President Mike Pence whom President El Sisi met with in January 2018.
In line with these values, in August 2016 Egypt’s House of Representatives—following President El Sisi’s call to action—passed a landmark new law that paves the way for Egypt’s Christian community to restore and construct new churches across the country. The legislation, which overhauled antiquated rules written during the Ottoman Empire in 1856, also aimed to build new bridges of confidence between Christians and Muslims, and foster national unity among all Egyptian citizens.
Regionally, Egypt is working to resolve the pressing conflicts that have engulfed Syria, Libya and Yemen and Lebanon. In each case, Egypt is working with the U.S. and the international community to end hostilities, achieve political settlements and restore legitimate governance.
• In Syria, Egypt is a critical partner in the United Nations-led effort to achieve a political settlement, supporting efforts aimed at combating terrorism and beginning reconstruction efforts as soon as a settlement is reached that encourages Syrian refugees to return to and settle in their country.
• In Libya, Egypt plays a key role in the international community’s efforts to restore stability and establish a national unity government that can lead the effort to combat terrorism there.
• In Yemen, Egypt is providing political and military support for action taken by the coalition of countries backing the legitimate government of Yemen and urging the international community to exert the necessary efforts to resume the transitional political process.
• In Lebanon, Egypt has fully supported preserving the country’s stability. In 2017 meetings with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al Hariri in Cairo, President El Sisi also “stressed the need for all Lebanese parties to reach consensus among each other, to uphold the supreme national interest of the Lebanese people, and to reject endeavors for foreign intervention in Lebanon’s internal affairs.”
Elsewhere, Egypt has consistently been among the top contributors to peacekeeping operations in the world. It currently provides more than 2,000 military and police personnel who serve under the flag of the United Nations in nine peace missions.
Finally, we are also broadening our role in global diplomatic security efforts. From January 2016 to January 2018, Egypt held a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and in September 2016, we were elected to the African Union’s Peace and Security Council. In these positions, Egypt has worked to ensure vigilance against extremism is maintained while advocating for regional stability in Africa and the Middle East.