Egypt's Sisi Begins African Tour Targeting Political, Economic Cooperation

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrives in Luanda, Angola. (Egyptian Presidency)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrives in Luanda, Angola. (Egyptian Presidency)
TT

Egypt's Sisi Begins African Tour Targeting Political, Economic Cooperation

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrives in Luanda, Angola. (Egyptian Presidency)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrives in Luanda, Angola. (Egyptian Presidency)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi kicked off on Tuesday an African tour that includes Angola, Zambia, and Mozambique.  

Sisi will participate in the 22nd summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), during which the rotating chairmanship will be handed over from Egypt to Zambia.  

Presidential spokesman Ahmed Fahmy said Sisi's tour comes within Egypt's keenness to intensify communication and coordination with African nations.  

Fahmy indicated that the visits aim to boost Egyptian relations with the countries in various fields, especially by strengthening cooperation at economic, trade, and investment levels. The tour addresses the advanced priority accorded to African issues in Egyptian foreign policy.  

Observers told Asharq Al-Awsat that the tour is geopolitically important to Cairo and opens a new horizon for Egyptian diplomacy in southern Africa.  

They added that it focuses on boosting bilateral cooperation, dealing with the continent's concerns, and discussing regional developments.  

Egypt has intensified its diplomatic activity in Africa in the last ten years.  

According to an official report by the Egyptian State Information Service, African countries accounted for more than 30 percent of all presidential visits in recent years.  

During the past year, Sisi participated in several summits concerned with Africa, including the US-Africa Leaders' Summit in Washington and the 6th session of the AU-EU Summit between the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) in Brussels.  

Ambassador Ali al-Hefny described Sisi's current tour as "extremely important," explaining that it targets several countries in southern Africa that were given less priority in Egyptian foreign policy than other regions.  

The former official stressed the importance of presidential visits to African countries, pointing out that they represent Egypt's keenness to communicate with them at the highest levels. 

Zambia and Angola boast promising opportunities to work with Egypt at the official level and with the business community, he went on to say.  

In 2019, Egypt chaired the AU, launching several cooperation initiatives, including the "Silencing the Guns" initiative to reduce armed conflicts in Africa.  

It also launched the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development to act as an African platform to discuss various threats and challenges facing the continent.  

Egypt participates in a group of major continental projects, especially in transportation linking the continent's northern and southern ends through the river navigation corridor between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea.  

Expert in African affairs Rami Zuhdi said Sisi's visit has promising economic potential, especially in mining and oil production.  

Zuhdi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the tour has "geopolitical" importance, which "opens new horizons for Egyptian diplomacy."  

He indicated that revitalizing Egypt's role in COMESA is essential for boosting its presence in the continent.  

Egypt is seeking to consolidate its African presence by adopting a set of cooperation, trade, and cultural exchange programs. 

Last month, it hosted the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group with the participation of central bank governors, finance ministers, and officials representing the 81 member countries.  

Egypt is the third largest economy in Africa in terms of GDP after Nigeria and South Africa.  

Cairo and Ethiopia account for about 63 percent of the total foreign direct investment within the COMESA group in the petroleum, services, and manufacturing sectors. 



Allawi to Asharq Al-Awsat Biden Tried to Persuade Me to Abandon Premiership in 2010

Iraq’s former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. (Getty Images)
Iraq’s former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. (Getty Images)
TT

Allawi to Asharq Al-Awsat Biden Tried to Persuade Me to Abandon Premiership in 2010

Iraq’s former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. (Getty Images)
Iraq’s former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. (Getty Images)

Iraq’s former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi revealed the details of how he was prevented from assuming the post of PM after winning a majority of seats in the 2010 parliamentary elections.

In a detailed account to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said then US Vice President Joe Biden had requested that he assume the post of president - which is reserved for Sunnis - and to work on persuading the Sunnis to accept this proposal. Biden said he would work on persuading the Kurds.

Allawi was responding to a three-part interview Asharq Al-Awsat held with Iraqi politician Fakhri Karim during which he spoke at length about the political process in Iraq in the post-Saddam Hussein era.

Karim acknowledged that he made a grave error when he opted for Nouri al-Maliki remaining in his position as PM even though Allawi had won the parliamentary majority.

Allawi told Asharq Al-Awsat that Biden proposed to him that he assume the position of president.

“Biden visited me after we won the elections in 2010. He requested that we talk in another room. He was accompanied by Llyod Austin, current Defense Secretary and then commander of the US forces in Iraq, then American Ambassador James Jeffrey and then State Department official Antony Blinken, who is now Secretary of State,” he revealed.

Biden proposed that Allawi become president to which he replied that he would be faced by “two major hurdles”: the Sunnis and the Kurds.

He also cited a third hurdle, the Iraqi people, “who had entrusted me to become head of government.”

Allawi then revealed that prominent Sunni figures, such as former Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, Saleh al-Matlaq and former parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi had agreed to him becoming president.

“They agreed even though Biden informed them [the Sunnis] that they will get nothing in the state. They replied that this doesn’t matter,” recalled Allawi.

Allawi agreed Karim about the circumstances that led to ISIS’ takeover of swathes of Iraq and with his account of events related to attempts to withdraw confidence from former PM Maliki.

Karim had told Asharq Al-Awsat that Maliki did not heed Masoud Barzani’s warnings about the movement of extremists near Mosul city, which eventually led to ISIS’ takeover.