February 10, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 3572

Egypt Uprising - Foreign Minister Abu Al-Gheit Slams U.S. Administration for Interfering in Egypt's Affairs: When Someone Says 'Now' and 'Immediately,' I Say to Him, 'Boy, Go Play Somewhere Else'

February 10, 2011
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 3572

Following are excerpts from an interview with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on February 9, 2011.

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit

"It is Inconceivable that the Egyptian President would Leave His Country, Fleeing His Own People"

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "A reporter in Sharm Al-Sheikh asked me a very provocative question: 'When will we see the president of Egypt [leaving the country like Bin Ali]?' I sensed a kind of vindictiveness from him, and a desire to see the Egyptian president acting like the Tunisian president.

"My response is that this is nonsense. It is inconceivable that the Egyptian president would leave his country, fleeing his own people. This is inconceivable and would never happen. In addition to the president's personality, Egypt, with its institutions, its capabilities, its army, its people, and its youth... Even its youth will never accept the president's leaving this way."

Interviewer: "Were there proposals from certain countries, maybe in the Gulf? Angela Merkel said that the president may come to Germany. Were there proposals to host the president?"

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "I have no knowledge whatsoever of such a thing, or even about Angela Merkel's statement. It was mentioned in the German media, and some people in Germany opposed this.

"I am certain that it is impossible that the president would do this. It is inconceivable that the president of Egypt would act this way."

A Confluence of Factors Led to the Uprising

Interviewer: "What shortcomings of the Egyptian state led to what people now call 'a revolution?'"

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "There were many reasons. One of them was the results of the recent parliamentary elections. The entire society saw what happened. One should be true to oneself.

"The second reason was that as the president was advancing in age, it remained unknown who would succeed him. Therefore, people started talking about the bequeathing of the rule to his son. All these things created pressure.

"The third thing was the conduct of the Egyptian police. The police conduct over the years has generated anger. This is a fact which we cannot deny.

"The fourth reason was that there was continuous media coverage of the connection between the rule and the businessmen. [...]

"In addition, there was the difficult economic situation which the Egyptian government was facing at the time."

Interviewer: "There were also demands for democratization..."

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "These five or six factors intertwined, leading to this.

"With regard to the Internet – once, when I said that we had 20 million registered Internet users, and 60 million cell phones, a certain newspaper talked about the foreign minister's 'false claims.' The fact is that the Internet enabled the youth to act in concert. [...]

"The picture is very difficult for the Egyptian society."

"When the President Takes Upon Himself Such a Commitment… People Should Trust the Word of the Egyptian President"

Interviewer: "And we don't know when we will get out of this..."

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "We must get out of this as soon as we can, because this might lead to the loss of Egypt, and we will be remembered as the generation on whose watch Egypt was lost. What do I mean by that? The factories have come to a standstill or work at very low capacity. The stock exchange is closed, the imports and exports..."

Interviewer: "True, there are economic losses, but the youth at Al-Tahrir Square say that this is the price of the revolution: '300 of us have been martyred for that...'"

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "The demands of the youth are on their way to being realized. Definitely. I think that when the president takes upon himself such a commitment – and the vice president referred to it as the president's commitment... People should trust the word of the Egyptian president." [...]

Interviewer: "Will the Egyptian regime be a military regime in the near future?"

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "I hope that this will not happen. Today, we have a president, a vice president, a parliament, a Shura council, and a roadmap drawn up by the president. [...]

"In my view, logic requires that we continue this [roadmap], with guarantees to the youth that they will not be harmed in any way: You've conveyed your message, and now let us implement the goals of this message.

"The alternative is what some people offer – to establish a national association that will assume power. On the basis of what will it assume power? Why this national association and not another?"

Interviewer: "There is a suggestion that the president should resign immediately, and another suggestion that he should fully empower the vice president."

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "If he did that, the authorities of the vice president, as defined by the current constitution, would not allow the vice president to change the constitution, to conduct elections, and so on. So we must preserve the constitution, even if an amended one, because by continuing the constitutional process, we will be protecting the country from reckless people, who would want to seize power and to supervise the interim process.

"If this were to happen, the constitution would be rendered inactive. Then the military would be forced to defend the constitution, according to its oath. It would be forced to defend Egyptian national security, according to its oath. We would find ourselves in an extremely perilous situation.

"It is better to continue the development process. We are talking about only four months, not four years, or even two years. We will do this until June, and then we will embark upon presidential elections, after the amendment of the constitution and of the parliament's status. Then we will hold elections, and in September, we will have a new president." [...]

Muslim Brotherhood will be Legitimized if Government is Forced to Come to an Agreement with Them

Interviewer: "The Muslim Brotherhood are represented in the dialogue with the vice president. Is this an implicit recognition of the Muslim Brotherhood?"

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "Absolutely, and it will have consequences in the future. This is only if there is an agreement, because if there is no agreement, and it becomes clear that the state and the Muslim Brotherhood are at odds, it is very possible that there will be different circumstances." [...]

"Many Arab and Non-Aligned Countries Thought that the Constant Contradictions in the American Positions Reflect an Inability to Conduct a Serious Analysis of the Situation"

"Many Arab and non-aligned countries thought that the constant contradictions in the American positions reflect an inability to conduct a serious analysis of the situation. Therefore, many Arabs talked to the U.S. and said: We would like to see a stable American position, with which all of us can deal, and which will help Egypt accomplish its goals in this great crossing. [...]

"The question is not whether or not the latest American position pleases me. Ultimately, they have realized the need to conduct these major transformations gradually and on the basis of a roadmap with clear goals, guarantees, and phases. They were using the word 'now.' They said: You must do it now! But they changed their position... When someone says to me 'now,' 'immediately,' and whatever, I say to him: 'Boy, go play somewhere else.' We will do everything according to the interests of our people and country."

Interviewer: "You talked about a new regime, or at least, a new president. Could a new regime have new principles for the Egyptian foreign ministry, like, for example, the annulment of the peace treaty with Israel?"

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "Well... I believe that any new regime with a new elected president... We should remember that if the rule is passed from one president to another, the president will know that after 5, 6, or 10 years, he will go. So the question of whether he is allowed to carry out fundamental change in the foreign policies of Egypt, in a way that would take the country in a different direction... I believe that this is a sensitive decision that should be well thought out. It's not just up to the president. It's up to the president and society to decide whether they want to do this or not."

Interviewer: "Will the U.S. allow a new regime to sever relations with Israel?"

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "Will the president be elected by the U.S.?!"

Interviewer: "But we see that the U.S. and other countries express their positions..."

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "But we answered them. Someone asked why we don't respond, and I said: This is our response. We answered them most forcefully."

The U.S. and Iran Both Pushed for a Rapid Handover of Power

Interviewer: "Some people thought that in the beginning, there was a similarity between the U.S. political discourse and that of Iran. Their positions were close with regard to change in Egypt."

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "Absolutely. That was very clear. Khamenei and Hassan Nasrallah were saying: Change, now! And the U.S., in my view, was not aware of the dangers of a speedy transformation. They did not understand what would happen unless there is a roadmap..."

Interviewer: "And that's why they changed their position."

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "Absolutely."

Interviewer: "There were threats in America to cut off the U.S. aid..."

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "They retracted these statements as well."

Interviewer: ... "the $1.3 billion in military aid."

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "And then what? If you want to cut off your support – I call it support, not aid... Do they want to cut off their support to the army that maintains stability in this country? Is this conceivable? [...]

"There is no danger to the flow of Nile water to Egypt. We haven't seen any dams blocking the water. The river continues to flow."

Interviewer: "What about the future of our children?"

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "With regard to the future, negotiations are being held, and research is being conducted, and there is ebb and flow, give and take..." [...]

Interviewer: "Have you been to Al-Tahrir Square?"

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "No, I haven't had the chance."

Interviewer: "Would you like to go?"

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "Well... The core of what is happening in Al-Tahrir Square is the youth... Many people go there to express solidarity, and then leave, or they just watch, and then leave. The truth is..."

Interviewer: "Amr Moussa went there..."

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "Over the past 16 days, Egypt has received many foreign policy blows..."

Interviewer: "The secretary-general of the Arab League..."

Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: "We've received many foreign blows. It got to the point that whoever wants to gain points in his own country, and to give a show back home that he is a progressive-leftist-democratic-whatever, makes such statements. These statements, positions, parliaments, the UN, the Security Council... We've seen the UN secretary-general putting on a show... People should be aware of this and tell everybody not to interfere in Egypt's internal affairs, because this is up to the Egyptian people, and we will reform our own society." [...]

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