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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has called for a special summit to discuss the creation of a pan-African counterterrorism force, his latest bid to create an international coalition to fight extremist militants.
Mr El Sisi made his call in an address to leaders gathered for the African Union summit in Addis Ababa on Sunday, at which he also handed over the rotating one-year presidency of the bloc to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“Egypt is ready to host this special African summit both out of its sense of responsibility and its belief in the importance of such a force in establishing peace and security in Africa,” Mr El Sisi said.
He did not propose a date for the summit or offer any details on the projected size of the force, its mandate or leadership.
He said the summit should also lay down a “comprehensive vision” for counterterrorism and establishing peace and security across the continent.
A former general who took office in 2014, Mr El Sisi has called repeatedly for the international community to pool its resources in a unified fight against terrorism, arguing that individual nations may not be a match for rapidly expanding militant groups with border-transcending capabilities. Such a global front has yet to materialise, but Egypt is known to be co-operating closely with fellow Arab nations and western allies in the fight against Islamist militant groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS.
A pan-African force, in theory at least, could move against such groups based in Libya that Egypt blames for a series of deadly cross-border attacks on security forces and its Coptic Christian minority in recent years. It could also assist in the fight against militants in the Sahel region who have staged increasingly frequent and deadly attacks.
Egypt itself is dealing with a years-long insurgency by Islamist militants centred in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula. The insurgency has proved to be resilient despite the superior firepower and numbers of the security forces, but the militants have been denied control of large swathes of territory.
Under Mr El Sisi, Egypt has had a zero-tolerance policy toward political Islam. As defence minister, the Egyptian leader led the military’s removal in 2013 of Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist president whose one year in office proved divisive. Morsi died in prison last year.
Updated: February 10, 2020 06:17 PM
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