Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi granted an exclusive interview to FRANCE 24 ahead of his meeting in Paris with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. Sisi, who is on a three-day visit to France, discussed the fight against terrorism and the need to secure borders, the human rights situation in his country – which is criticised by several NGOs – as well as the political situation in neighbouring Libya.
“There are countries who are supporting terrorism through financing, weapons and moral support, media support and political support”, Sisi told FRANCE 24’s Michel Kik, in a thinly veiled reference to Qatar – although he refused to “name specific countries”. “Those countries have to stop this, not just for the stability of Egypt but for the whole word”, the Egyptian leader said.
Regarding the human rights situation in Egypt, Sisi was categorical: “There are no political prisoners in Egypt; there are normal trial proceedings that are fair”.
But several NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights and Reporters Without Borders, say that Egypt is experiencing its “”worst human rights crisis in decades”.
Last June President Donald Trump also attacked Qatar for funding terrorism during a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the White House. Trump took credit for the recent decision by Arab nations to cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar.
Qatar has “historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level,” Trump said during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.
“I decided, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, our great generals and military people, the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding ‒ they have to end that funding ‒ and its extremist ideology.”
Qatar, Iran ties and terrorism
The political crisis engulfing Qatar stems from accusations by its Arab neighbors that it supports terrorism. Qatar denies the allegations, but its ties with Iran and embrace of various Islamist groups have brought intense scrutiny and created enough smoke to suggest a fire. Last June Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar amid a slew of punitive measures. They later upped the pressure by naming 59 people and several charities linked to Qatar on a terrorist list.