Egypt tells John Kerry that ISIS brand of Islamofascist terrorism isn’t limited to Syria and Iraq, it’s all over the Middle East and should be dealt with everywhere.
CNS News During Secretary of State John Kerry’s weekend visit to Cairo, his Egyptian counterpart pushed for the new international focus on countering terrorism to go beyond Syria and Iraq, arguing that the same ideology espoused by the jihadists there is driving other Islamist extremists, including those in Egypt’s neighboring territories.
During his current travels in the Middle East and Europe, Kerry is seeking support for a coalition to tackle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), and he said Sunday he has received offers from some countries to take part in the military element of that campaign. But while the administration’s focus has been largely centered on ISIS, Cairo sees the problem as a far broader one.
A spokesman for President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi said that in talks with Kerry the president had “stressed that any international coalition against terrorism must be a comprehensive alliance that is not limited to confront a certain organization or to curb a single terrorist hotbed but must expand to include all the terrorist hotbeds across the Middle East and Africa.”
During a joint press appearance with Kerry, Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri underlined the point, calling for a fight against Islamist terrorists “wherever they may be.” “I support the international efforts to fight terrorism and work on supporting these efforts, and support the necessary measures to put an end to this phenomenon, whether in Iraq, Libya, any part of the Arab world, or in Africa,” he said.
In reply to a question about possible links between ISIS and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a terrorist group based in the Sinai peninsula, he said the two organizations were linked through a common ideologically and vision, even if they portray themselves differently. “We definitely monitor these relationships between the various organizations, and in the end, this – ideologically speaking, this organization is linked and these organizations share that common vision,” Shukri said, speaking through a translator.
“And we don’t believe there’s a different – perhaps just in the tactics used by these organizations and the way they depict themselves to the international community,” he continued. “We believe that this extremist, exclusionary ideology is common among all terrorist organizations,” Shukri said, adding that Egypt monitors cooperation between such groups and recognizes that they pose threats across borders between national states.
“They want to eliminate these states so that this extremist ideology will prevail.” Shukri said Egypt believed defeating terrorism was “a collective responsibility.” “There should be agreement between members of the international community to eliminate these phenomena wherever they may be.”
The U.S. and Egypt have also differed over the Muslim Brotherhood, a veteran Islamist organization which the former views as a legitimate political force and the latter as a terrorist group.
Sisi, in his then capacity as military chief, toppled the Islamist organization’s ruling administration in July 2013 and cracked down on its leaders, from former President Mohamed Morsi down.