On Saturday 28 October 2023, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi commented on the raging war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which started on 7 October. He made these comments during an event he was attending, the opening session of the second edition the annual International Manufacturing Convention and Exhibition which was held in New Cairo.
This Gaza war impacts Egypt in a very direct way, not only because it takes place at Egypt’s northeastern border, but because of Israeli calls for Gazans to flee the war fire into Egypt’s Sinai. Egypt has categorically rejected that proposal for two major reasons: the move would practically expel Gazans from their homes and land and forcefully displace them into another country; and it would constitute a dire threat to Egypt’s sovereignty and national security, given that Gazans who flee into Egypt are not expected to remain complacent at losing their country, but would fight Israel from Egyptian land, throwing to the wind the Egypt’s national security.
In a calm, compelling voice President Sisi said:
“Regarding the crisis [the Gaza war] we are living through in our region, of course I get reports and information on all what takes place; I also see a lot of comments and interactions on social media. I can sense the obviously escalating anxiety among the public. This is fully justified, I understand the worry and anxiety, but it is my duty to reassure you.
“Egypt has always been keen to play a positive regional role. During the last decades, and even before I became President [in 2014], Egypt’s role was propelled by the country’s grasp of stability. This is pivotal for our country and region, and we follow that same line today, exerting huge efforts to achieve stability.
“We appreciate yesterday’s [Friday 27 October] UN General Assembly resolution for a ceasefire and calm. This is of major significance because rushed responses motivated by wrath may only lead to regret when matters run out of control. We warn against that.
“Yesterday [Friday 27 October] saw drones fired close to us; they were intercepted and felled. Wherever they came from, expansion of the current conflict is not in our interest nor in that of the region as I already warned. It will only serve to turn the region into a time bomb that would explode and harm us all.
“Egypt is a sovereign country; its sovereignty and standing should be respected by all. I say it not to boast or brag: Egypt is powerful .. a powerful country not to be meddled with.
“It is very important for our young men and women not to be anxious. God Almighty protected our country in 2011 [the Arab Spring uprising that brought on lawlessness and Islamism] and in 2013 [when Egypt’s masses and army rid the country of Islamist rule and created a secular civil State], and will always protect us. Because our policies have never been treacherous or mean, opportunist or even built on interests. Stability was always our main interest, because only then could we build our country and thrive. Through the grace of God, Egypt is able to protect itself and flourish through the efforts and awareness of its people and military.
“Don’t be anxious .. go about your businesses and live your lives.
“We are exerting huge efforts to attain calm and reach a ceasefire. We are exerting huge efforts for humanitarian aid to go into Gaza; such aid should match the massive needs of the 2.3 million Gazans who are besieged without water, food, fuel, medical supplies, and communications. We thank all countries that generously sent humanitarian aid to Gaza.
“We are also playing a positive role in helping free hostages and captives of the war, but not everything may be publicised; we will announce news once matters are finalised.
“For the moment, I reassure you that by God’s grace no one can [do us harm]. Go about your businesses, work and thrive.”
29 October 2023