SECURITY intelligence being shared between Arab states is essential in combating “the dismantling of the Middle East”, which Egypt’s former prime minister says is systematically being carried out through sectarian conflicts.
Essam Sharaf said the region was witnessing fourth-generation warfare (4GW) that aimed to restructure the Middle East by pitting Sunnis and Shi’ites against each other.
Mr Sharaf, who was in office from March to December 2011 following the revolution that removed former president Hosni Mubarak, said the only way out was a united region.
“Terrorism cannot rule it’s only a tool – first you have to search who is after this tool and take a stand against them,” said Mr Sharaf told the GDN in an exclusive interview.
“They are gangs, like Daesh, and they do not want to rule at all.
“They are assigned to highlight and fuel sectarianism and cause havoc by pushing Sunnis against Shi’ites and vice versa.
“The importance of sharing intelligence between Arab countries is essential to saving the area, which I believe is key to success.
“It is very clear that Iraq is going to become three countries; Kurds, Sunnis and Shi’ites, but before it was one country and Syria is also heading to the same fate.
“Even in Egypt, they are trying to push it towards this, but the nationalism of Egyptians is still strong and we hope it will remain so.
“I thought Egypt will bounce back much quicker, however, it is taking some time due to the situation in the region.
“It is crucial to enlighten people about the importance of national unity and national identity.”
He urged people in the region to hold on to their nationalism because he believed it was key in defeating extremism and the spread of terrorism.
“Countries are made up of different people but they are living together in one country and the main thing that ties them together is nationalism,” he added.
“For example, I am Egyptian or I am Iraqi full stop.
“When nationalism diminishes, then each group starts making its own country. They then seek help from outsiders, who they find are similar to them outside their country.
“These planned wars are written schemes that we find in books such as Pawns in the Game or those by Bernard Lewis.
“All of us Muslims or non-Muslims believe in certain ideologies but (the terrorists) goal is to separate us.
“Countries are of course aware of this and neglecting to fight terrorism has a very steep price.
“We are all targeted in the area and in a very dangerous situation.
“4GW is coming and we are providing it to them on a silver plate due to our disputes with one another.
“My national dream is always to have a country with a solid frame, meaning a very strong military, but with a soft content which is to believe in the other within the same country.”
Mr Sharaf also said the hijacking of Egypt Air flight from Alexandria to Cairo on March 29 was the work of intelligence agencies to “ruin Egypt’s image abroad”, despite Cyprus authorities describing the hijacker as “psychologically unstable”.
The Cypriots said the incident was not “terrorism-related” as his motives to divert the flight to Cyprus were related to his ex-wife.
The 58-year-old Egyptian hijacker faces charges of hijacking, kidnapping people with the aim of taking them to an unknown destination, reckless and threatening behaviour and offences that breach the anti-terror law.
“The man got on the plane without any weapons or explosives and was just wearing a cotton jacket but the whole plan was for him to cause a commotion about Egypt’s safety,” said Mr Sharaf.
“We have to be patient with ourselves because they want to penetrate us by sending people to be in our airports and also ruin our image abroad.
“If this happens once then it’s over – we should resist any outside interference for our country’s sovereignty.”
However, Mr Sharaf said he predicted a bright future for Egypt despite the region’s instability.
“Egypt’s physical resources are extraordinary and its strategic location is a positive asset for us,” he added.
“What we are using is much less than what we have, which allows a person to look through an optimistic perspective.”
Mr Sharaf was in Bahrain for the 27th Arab Engineering Conference and met Egyptian nationals living here along with former Egyptian Civil Aviation minister Major General Wael Al Madawi, who accused the US of triggering the January 25 revolution.
“Egypt wanted a change in 2011 and they made a revolution, but the US was the trigger behind it,” Maj Gen Al Madawi told the GDN.
“The new Middle East and remapping of the area is currently being carried out.
“Egypt and Saudi Arabia are amongst the top countries (the US) want to divide.
“It’s a policy in the US and they trained some of the Arab teenagers under the name of human rights and democracy.
“At the start of the January 25 Revolution (the US) was aiming to cause a conflict between the army and the people – Americans are aware that the army is the obstacle in dividing the country.
“There were tons of secret agencies in the country at that time from countries like Qatar and Russia.
“Essam Sharaf saved the country from this happening due to his leniency and got Egypt through this phase.”
Maj Gen Al Madawi also spoke of extremists fighting in Sinai, who he said were being “tricked into performing jihad”.
Since Egypt’s military overthrew Islamist president Mohamad Mursi in 2013, jihadist attacks on the army and police have persisted despite an army campaign against them.
“They are luring teenagers into extremism by claims that they are fighting for God by becoming a jihadi,” he added.
“We’ve seen people dying in Sinai from these terrorists and they are being funded by outsiders, that’s why they are never running out of resources.
“These fighters are sent from other countries like Yemen and Libya and they believe that they will go to heaven if they kill others.”
The region’s security has been facing further instability since Islamic State militants took control of large swathes of northern and western Iraq and parts of Syria.