Egyptian security, stability, terrorism, and future relations with the United States and Israel were among the issues Egypt's presidential frontrunner candidate field Marshal Abdel Fatah El- Sisi revealed in series of media interviews. El-Sisi, who did not present an official electoral program or future agenda, spoke of general ideas that were enough to show his understanding of major issues surrounding Egypt and the region.
El- Sisi, who presided over Egypt's military intelligence for years, served little over a year as Minister of Defense before ousting Egypt's first elected President Mohamed Morsi on July 3rd last year.
El-Sisi is not expected to institute radical changes in Egypt's foreign policy that could negatively impact US interests in the region. However, El-Sisi still faces mounting crises at home ranging from the future of the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism to the dire economic situation facing Egypt and the growing number of the angry and dissatisfied youth.
Egypt's presidential election will be held on May 26-27.
1 The Muslim Brotherhood
For El-sisi, the Muslim Brotherhood lost connection with Egyptians and lost sympathy from the majority of Egyptians. "Egypt's social and religious fabric will not make room for groups like the Muslim Brotherhood - this is the people's decision." The presidential contender revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood deeply offended the Egyptians when they dealt with the people according to their own group's values. They should have respected the constitution and the laws that brought them to power, he said, and added "the Muslim Brotherhood had tried to spread their own beliefs within society, disregarding the law, which had caused their rejection by the Egyptian people".
He explained that Egypt's social and religious fabric would not allow the existence of such ways of thinking, indicating that it was the peoples' resolution that resolved the matter in June 2013, as a result of the agony the Brotherhood had inflicted on the Egyptians.
When pressured to explain, Sisi elaborated "it wasn't just me but all Egyptians reject reconciliation with the Brotherhood."
El-Sisi concluded "in my reign Egypt will not have a Supreme Guidance Office for the Brotherhood".
Speaking about the Camp David Peace Treaty with Israel, Sisi expressed his respect and appreciation for all international treaties, including the peace treaty with Israel.
He noted that the "relationship with Israel and the peace treaty has been stable for more than 30 years and had faced a lot of challenges yet it remained stable. We respected it and we will respect it.
In a question about the possibility of receiving the Israeli Prime Minister, Sisi said he would be open to that if "a Palestinian state was established, with Jerusalem as its capital."
El-Sisi revealed that the destruction of the Smuggling tunnels in the Sinai started on February 2013, pointing out that the former ousted president undermined Egypt's national security. He added that Egypt's borders were left insecure for the first time, assuring that Egypt has stepped up its security measures on all its borders. He urged Egyptians to separate Hamas from the Palestinian cause.
3 The Egyptian military
The army has not ruled Egypt in the past 30 years, he said in response to a question about concerns of the re-establishing of military rule, given his military background. "The army will not be involved in politics but will continue to help in economic developmental projects," he said.
"The military institution will have no role in the management of the country during my Presidential term" El-Sisi noted. He added that "cooperation between the private sector and the armed forces has had a real impact, employing approximately one million workers". He also noted that "before resigning from the Armed Forces and running for President, I made arrangements within the Armed Forces to ensure a smooth transition."
"My colleagues in the military institution told me that they approve of my nomination for president for the sake of the country." And he added "the military institution is very organized with strong values that internally unite it" and concluded saying "a military leader gathers management experience throughout his life."
4 War on Terrorism
El-Sisi said that he decided to run for president when he detected an effort to "destroy the state," forcing him to heed the calls of the people. El-Sisi said, "he would take whatever decision was needed to protect the country from terrorism."
"We are fighting a war against terrorism. The Egyptian army is undertaking major operations in the Sinai so that it is not transformed into a base for terrorism that will threaten its neighbors and make Egypt unstable. If Egypt is unstable then the region is unstable. I don't think this is in the interest of security and peace in the entire world" he told Reuters.
Regarding Egypt's security, El Sisi said that during the four months following July 3rd 2013, Egypt suffered from major terrorist threats, pointing out that the armed forces had to help the police in fighting terrorism.
He added that for four years the police have been suffering from harsh conditions and asked Egyptians to provide them with moral support.
Regarding Sinai, Sisi added that all terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula could be eliminated in "an hour's time" but that it took longer to isolate the militants there because the army wanted to minimize harm to "women, children and the elderly."
El-Sisi said that the army would increase its support of the police in fighting "terrorism" if he becomes president.
5 Religion in Politics
Elsis expressed his sorrow for these people who introduced or presented the Islam today, and desciped them as a "very ugly face."
"I pledge to implement mechanisms that will reform religious discourse; so that Egyptians don't witness any more violence" El-Sisi said and added "religious discourse isolated from reality creates a problem in the fabric of Egyptian society.
I personally have lived and grown up in a town where problems between Muslims and Christians were nonexistent but radical extremism has caused division, even among Muslims."
When asked whether he would allow political party based on religion affiliation such as Al- Nour party and others, he responded saying "we have to implement the constitution, and it is clear that it prohibits religious based political parties."
6 The United States
He described the relation with Washington as a "strategic, stable, and steady relationship". He noted that Egypt understands the American position and hope that they understand Egypt's. El-Sisi called on the United States to evaluate the situation in Egypt, not through its' own mind set but through the Egyptian mindset. He added that he will communicate with the entire world, seeking Egypt's best interest.
El-Sisi pointed out that the United States is seeking stability in Egypt and the entire region. "They care about regional and Egyptian stability, Suez Canal, and they would like to ensure the current and future situation through their intelligence, and other agencies". He called on President Obama to Support Egypt's effort to combat terrorism saying "we need American support to fight terrorism; we need American equipment to combat terrorism."
*Mohamed Elmenshawy is Washington Bureau chief for Egyptian Daily Al Shoruok, On twitter @ElMenshawyM or email email@example.com