'Terrorism has been put under control' says Egyptian parliament speaker in Abu Dhabi ahead of elections
Dr Ali Abdel Aal also says Cairo considers any 'meddling' in Gulf security by Iran a 'red line'
The speaker of Egypt's parliament has said his country has brought terrorism under control, ahead of the presidential elections next month and following a spate of recent atrocities.
Dr Ali Abdel Aal said that his country is on the front lines of terrorism during a visit to Abu Dhabi.
“If terrorism gets out of hand in Egypt, it will spread... so we are also contributing to the security of the Arab world and Europe," he told The National as he met with Federal National Council members.
He said “terrorism has been put under control in Egypt” following a tumultuous year of killings.
In November, militants killed more than 300 people at a Sufi mosque in the Sinai in a bomb and gun attack that marked the deadliest in Egypt's modern history.
Last Easter, at least 45 Christians were killed in coordinated church bombings and last month, on January 14 of this year, gunmen shot dead a Christian man in the turbulent north of the Sinai Peninsula.
Dr Aal also said Egypt is ready to defend Gulf and Arab allies against any threats, whether terrorists or hostile states.
“Egypt considers any meddling with the security of the Gulf a red line that should not be crossed," he said, without specifically naming Iran, though he went on to talk about Tehran's occupation of three islands in the Gulf.
“And in Egypt we have land, maritime and air armed forces that are capable of protecting Egyptian land and Arab security.
“A challenge that the UAE and Egypt are facing together is the division that the region has been witnessing outside interference.
“We stand by the UAE to preserve its independence and the security of its land," Dr Aal said in reference to Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, which have been in Iranian control since 1971.
Egyptians go to the polls on March 26 and incumbent President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is the only candidate with a chance of winning, given other challengers have been barred or arrested.
The only other candidate running is Mussa Mustapha Mussa, the leader of the liberal Al Ghad party, which supports Mr Sisi.
But Dr Aal insisted that the election process has been free and fair.
"There are no political arrests in Egypt at all," Dr Aal said.
“There aren’t even any exceptional courts or political detention.
“The elections are run by an independent national committee which includes ten judges and is managed under comprehensive judicial supervision.
“And the door is open for any individual to watch over the elections.”
Egyptians go to the polls on March 26-28.
Updated: February 27, 2018 01:56 PM