El-Sisi recognizes collaboration between Egypt and Israel in a CBS interview
In an interview with the American television channel CBS, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi confirmed that the Egyptian army is collaborating with Israel against “Islamist terrorists” in the Sinai Peninsula. Despite the Egyptian authorities request to not broadcast the interview, CBS aired it last Sunday on the famous “60 Minutes” show.
Egypt tried to cancel El-Sisi’s CBS interview on cooperation with Israel
Egypt is facing a local branch of the Islamic State (ISIS) group in the northern Sinai Peninsula neighbouring Israel. Military cooperation with the Jewish state, denied by Cairo despite diplomatic ties between the two countries, remains a taboo subject. "The Egyptian ambassador contacted the 60 Minutes team shortly after to tell them that the interview could not be broadcasted", said CBS on its website. In this interview, president El-Sisi confirmed that his army was working with Israel against terrorists in North Sinai, mentioning “an extensive cooperation with the Israelis”. When asked if his cooperation with Israel was “close” and “deep”, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi replied: "That's right".
Last February, Egyptian security forces launched a major campaign against ISIS in North Sinai, where jihadists carried out numerous deadly attacks. In the same month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured that his country would do "everything" necessary to defend itself, after a New York Times paper reported dozens of Israeli strikes against jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula.
El-Sisi refuted reports on political imprisonment in Egypt
In an excerpt from Sisi's interview published on the CBS website, the Egyptian President stated that there were "no political prisoners" in his country, dismissing reports from international rights organisations saying that Egypt has imprisoned as many as 60,000 political activists. “I don't know where they got that number; I said there are no political prisoners in Egypt. Whenever a minority tries to impose its extremist ideology, we must intervene regardless of the number of its members" said the Egyptian President.
A former Minister of Defence, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi came to power in 2014, one year after participating in the army's dismissal of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. Human rights groups regularly accuse Sisi's regime of serious violations.