x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Gargash urges nations to support Egypt

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said events in Egypt proved that Islamism, or any ideology, 'is no replacement for a competent and responsible leadership'.

ABU DHABI // The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs has urged nations to support Egypt as he unveiled his policy for a moderate, tolerant and compassionate Middle East.

Dr Anwar Gargash called for international support for moderates in Egypt, and the region, after the removal of former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi as president.

He described the UAE's pledge of Dh11 billion in aid as just the beginning.

His six-step action plan was published on Tuesday in the online politics magazine Foreign Policy.

"The voice of moderation, the spirit of compassion and the respect for others must be nurtured and protected," Dr Gargash wrote.

He said more efforts were needed to "bolster Egypt's moderates and prevent extremists from taking any more advantage of the Arab Spring".

Dr Gargash said events in Egypt proved that Islamists, or any governing ideology, were "no replacement for a competent and responsible leadership".

While the Arab Spring gave Arabs a voice, he said, it also risked being overridden by an increase in violence, sectarianism, the uncertain role of Islamist political groups, foreign meddling and a deepening economic crisis.

The minister's foreign policy included opposing the rise in sectarian politics and blocking extremists from seizing power.

"We need to stand firm in support of the principles of religious tolerance and pluralism, practising them at home and advocating dialogue across the region," the minister wrote.

He said groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda used political transitions to impose their ideologies.

"We must provide support to moderate voices and help build strong and competent institutions as an alternative to the vacant promises of political Islam."

Empowering women was another major pillar of Dr Gargash's plan.

"There can be no moderate political force in the Middle East without women at the heart of defining what kinds of societies emerge from the changes occurring across the region," he said.

A two-state solution for Palestine and Israel was also in the plan, with a call for the US to "show leadership and resolve to reach a mutually acceptable solution with all parties".

Vulnerable countries needed help to deal with pressure caused by mass entry of refugees and in "acting decisively to stem the flow of young men, many radicalised, from travelling to fight in Syria".

"The international community must send a clear and unified message that extremist governments must refrain from meddling in the internal affairs of other countries or risk isolation or other, more profound consequences," he wrote.

Dr Gargash said opportunities needed to be created, with a focus on inclusive governing, investing in education and health care, and improving people's ability to build better lives.

"These are the pillars for success for moderates in the region. But while building these pillars takes time, Egypt needs our help now," he wrote.

Dr Gargash said other nations across the region facing "grave and immediate dangers" should be allowed to walk their own paths.

"But these countries should be encouraged and supported to accept, promote and protect universal values of tolerance and openness," he concluded.

Tamer Mansour, Egypt's ambassador to the UAE, has expressed his gratitude and said Egyptians would never forget the UAE's support.

Mr Mansour said his country would also never forget the first visit following the removal of Mr Morsi was by a high-profile UAE delegation led by Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the National Security Adviser.