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'Egyptians must realize aspirations'
Thu, 28 Apr 2011 08:37:56 GMT
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Thousands of Egyptian demonstrators have gathered in the capital, Cairo, demanding an end to their country's relations with Israel in the post-revolution era.

In an interview with Press TV on Wednesday, former Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister Abdullah Ashaal offered his insights on the current issues in the North African state. The following is a rush transcript of the interview:

Press TV: Egyptians do not want an incoming government that strays from the principles of the Islamic holy book of Qur'an. Can you give us your reaction of what this means for Egypt?

Ashaal: This means that under Mubarak the Egyptians were denied the right to adore God. The worship in Egypt was very difficult. The security forces were guarding anyone who wanted to go to the mosques. The regime itself had created tension between Christians and Muslims. Demolitions and exclusions in churches were also orchestrated by the regime agents. This had been one of the achievements by the Israelis who said that they did a lot in Egypt, and they ultimately wanted to divide the Egyptian society to make Egypt unable to come back after the end of Mubarak's regime. The Israelis were thinking very deeply how Egypt could be broken down and how it could have no opportunity to come back after Mubarak.

They are talking about Holy Qur'an, not necessarily as obliterating the Christians in Egypt; but they are talking about religion and its place in the Egyptian society, because if you talk about Qur'an, in fact you talk about other religions. In Qur'an itself we do not have many religions. We only have one religion. This religion has three messages. The first book is for the Jews, the second is for the Christians and the third one is for the Muslims. So we have one Islam with three categories. And Prophet Mohammad himself was completing the three stages of religion. So we understand that very correctly and we think that talking about Qur'an does not mean this is a message to the West that we will have terrorists.

Mubarak was justifying his stay in Egypt and harassing his people by an excuse that he is completely diminishing the power of Islamists in Egypt, but in fact this has had very bad repercussions in Islamophobia in Europe. Now this excuse is removed. Islam is Islam everywhere.

Press TV: Why should Egypt continue or honor its gas deal with Israel?

Ashaal: I think it is too early to talk about any change in Egypt concerning the relationship with Israel and the United States, because Egyptians are very keen to see a new political regime established and to see a new president elected. They have to translate their aspirations into a program of action in the future. This is going to take place in January next year. But all the signals are very clear now that the American aid to Egypt has to be overviewed in terms of the Egyptian interest. It is not bravery anymore for the Egyptians to be in favor of anything dictated against them by the United States.

From the economic point of view, initially I do not see any interest or something important for the Egyptian economy. But concerning the gas, Egypt is every day losing about nine million dollars. And the corrupt contract which had been concluded between Mubarak regime and the Israelis has to be reviewed as well. I think the court in Egypt has decided very categorically that Egypt has to fulfill its local needs and after that if it wishes to export gas, it has to stick to international prices. I think at the end of the day Egypt is going to stop sending gas to Israel for two reasons. First Egypt is paying a lot to buy the share for Israel according to Mubarak deal and secondly because Egyptians are in need of their gas.

Press TV: Do you think by this aid the United States will mean that Egypt has to conduct itself in ways beneficial to the United States and Israel's policies when it comes to the Palestinians?

Ashaal: All the files are interrelated. If we look back at 1979, the letter sent by the US State Department to the Congress so as to make a location of some sort of money for Egypt was justifiable by two reasons: first to encourage Egypt to continue the peace process with Israel and to encourage Arabs to come after Egypt, and secondly as well to compensate Egypt for the loss of Arab aid which had been stopped at that time. So now I do not feel that after more than 30 years of this aid, we did get any benefit at all. We need neither the Arab aid nor the American. Many of our gas and oil contracts have to be reviewed as well. In addition to that, many contracts implying loans have to be overviewed according to the location of the money of loan, so I think Egypt is going to overturn a new page in its own history starting from the economic construction and looking for the resources which are very affluent.

Press TV: Regarding the issue of a unity government in Palestine, what do you think of the role that Egypt without Mubarak as a mediator plays now?

Ashaal: Mubarak was one of the parties in favor of Israeli attitude that no reconciliation could take place. The minister of foreign affairs in Egypt was talking very frankly that he is going to call for international conference for peace not for the peace process or peace operation. I think it would be very important that the voice of the Palestinians be one and that they go to this conference perhaps at the end of this year. And this is a strike against the Israelis and Americans, because all the time they blocked everything including Mecca summit after which the Americans blocked all the results. There is a challenge because the Palestinian territory is occupied by Israel, and the national authority is totally affected by Israel. I think the Palestinians need support from Egypt and other states and this is the real moment for them.

The challenge will come from Israel, not from the Palestinians, and Israel is trying to forestall this big move. I think we have to be very firm. We are looking for the United Nations for a new Palestinian state. Unfortunately the Israeli occupation has in fact captured the spirit of Palestine in its own land. We now need very clear and brave approach so as to fight for peace.

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