April 27, 2010 Special Dispatch No. 2926

Egyptian Foreign Minister in Al-Ahram Names Israel as 'the Enemy,' Praises Ties with Syria; Al-Ahram Editorial: 'What We Need Now is to Increase Israel's Isolation'

April 27, 2010
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 2926

In the recent days, Egypt has hardened its tone towards Israel while expressing solidarity with Lebanon and Syria. During a surprise visit to Beirut, on April 24, 2010, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit said that Israel's claim that Syria had transferred Scud missiles to Hizbullah is "a big lie," adding that Egypt would stand by Syria and Lebanon if Israel attacked them. Asked whether he came to relay Israeli warnings regarding a possible attack on Lebanon, Abu Al-Gheit replied that Egypt did not convey messages from the "enemy" to a "sister state."[1] He also emphasized that, though no date had been set for a meeting between Assad and Mubarak, the Syrian president is always welcome in Egypt.[2]

An editorial published in the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram two days later called on the Arab countries not to extend friendship to Israel but rather to isolate it, and predicted that the next few days will see a significant development in the historical relations between Egypt and Syria.

Following are excerpts from the editorial:[3]

Israel – the Enemy; Lebanon – A Sister State

"Egypt showed great responsibility, and rushed to express solidarity with Lebanon and to clarify that the talk about Scud missiles being smuggled from Syria into Lebanon was [nothing but] a ridiculous lie. Cairo quickly dispatched its Foreign Minister, Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit, [to Beirut], not because it [wanted to] convey messages to Lebanon from non-Arab elements, but because the Egyptian leadership wanted to convey Lebanon's messages to other elements, especially to Israel. [When asked about this,] Abu Al-Gheit replied very directly and sincerely: 'I do not carry any message from the enemy to an Arab sister [state]'...

"[Abu Al-Gheit's visit] emphasized that Cairo [wished to] declare its solidarity with Lebanon and Syria on Lebanese soil, and that it was dispatching a clear and unambiguous message regarding which [country] is the enemy and which is a sister state. Let us reiterate that Cairo, with its long history, does not need to proclaim its positions [or clarify] which side it supports and where its national security lies. Presumably, it is the others who fail to understand that the [Arab] goals are unified and clear, even if there is a range of opinions regarding the [precise] interpretation of these goals and the way to achieve them."

Egypt Stands by Lebanon, Including Hizbullah

"The second important message here is that Cairo emphasized, by means of its Foreign Minister, that Egypt's concern is for Lebanon as a whole, even if the [enemy's] threat is directed mainly at Hizbullah. That is a permanent feature of Egypt's position on all Arab issues: it takes the same tone with everyone. Egypt's foremost concern is the stability of the Arab countries, their territorial integrity, the strength of their governments, and their [right] to take independent decisions on issues of war and peace. Egypt is also anxious that no Arab element be tempted to enter a trap, forcing [other] Arab elements to pay the price."

"The Upcoming Days Will See a Significant Development in Egypt-Syria Relations"

The third message is that Egypt is always looking out for Syria, which has been its partner in struggle throughout history. Cairo is cognizant of this eternal bond it shares with Damascus, since there have always been blood ties [between the two countries]... Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Abu Al-Gheit said that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is always welcome in Cairo, and it is not strange that Assad is careful to ask after President Hosni Mubarak's health. It is only natural that the upcoming days will see a significant development in Egypt-Syria relations that will reflect the historic bond between the two countries...

"Beyond the issue of the messages [that Egypt conveyed through this visit], we ask our brothers in Lebanon to refrain from giving Israel free gifts. Netanyahu's government [wants] to drive the Arabs to utter boastful statements that make Israel seem like the victim and make it sound as though Lebanon or the Arabs suddenly have some [means] to threaten Israel in a frightening way – and we do not want [Israel to succeed in this ploy]. This is a stereotypical and unrealistic image [of the Arabs]. Israel has been using this lie [against them], trying to tempt them into making statements of bravado that paint a picture totally at odds with reality. Gentlemen, statements and positions should reflect the facts on the ground, and the most important of these [facts are the following:] Israel is an occupying country that refuses to give back the Arab territories, and we are the ones who want peace, while the Netanyahu government is the one who invents false and ridiculous pretexts to launch uneven wars against Arab civilians, whether in Lebanon or in Gaza. Israel is the one who refuses to pay the price of peace, and who defies even the U.S. and the international [community] when they demand that it uphold the agreements it has signed – first and foremost the agreement to stop the settlement [activity]."

Israel Must Be Isolated

All the Arab sides – both those who support negotiations and the ones who pin their hopes on resistance – must refrain from extending a [friendly] hand to the extremist Israeli government. What we need now is to increase Israel's isolation, to besiege it as an occupying country, and to expose its racist face and gain the world's support for our just causes. If this peaceful siege does not achieve the hoped-for results, we will discuss [what to do] when the time comes."


[1] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), April 25, 2010.

[2] Al-Ahram (Egypt), Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 25, 2010.

[3] Al-Ahram (Egypt), April 26, 2010.

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