|Hosni Mubarak in Paris: "We Want a Safe Planet"|
Hosni Mubarak in Paris: "We Want a Safe Planet"
Exclusive interview granted by President Hosni Mubarak to Christian Malard (*) in Paris after his meeting with French president Jacques Chirac. Paris, September 24, 2001. (Photos: Alexandre Dupont).
Christian Malard: U.S. President George W. Bush recently said: "I want to know who is with us and who is against in our coalition". Egypt, a longstanding ally of the United States, as it was the case during the Gulf War, how would you position yourself today.
President Mubarak: I understood the statement delivered by George W. Bush. Who is against Terrorism. I think all the countries, all over the World, are against Terrorism, without exception. Not a single country in the World is ready to help Terrorism, may be individuals.
Christian Malard: The U.S. Administration is now building up its military operation against Usama Bin Laden and his Taliban allies in Afghanistan. Concretely, what do you expect from the Americans ? And what is, according to you Mr. President, the certain limit that Americans should not go beyond ?
President Mubarak: I don't know exactly the evidence they have. That's the reason why I can't tell you if Bin Laden did it or not. But all what we heard already a long time ago about Bin Laden trying to create problems against Americans. He said it in some statements. To the extent of the 13th of June, this year, there was a statement, saying that he, Bin Laden wanted to assassinate George Bush and other leaders of the E.U. while they were meeting in Italy. This was publicly said. I did not hear it privately. It was published in the newspapers. So, I cannot foretell what's going to happen, but I think this act of terrorism should be very strictly punished. I think they are doing big investigations. It seems that they reached to some conclusions, but they did not reveal yet the details for obvious reasons of secrecy on the ongoing investigations everywhere. They are collecting people from Europe, from other countries to reach a conclusion on this issue. So, I cannot foretell from now: is he going to attack Afghanistan as I heard it now and then. Or, he knows very well who did this act, this aggression. And in the coming few days we will understand it ? But I think it is better to focus on those who did this terrible acts.
Christian Malard: Mr. President, some of the closest advisers to President Bush want not only to attack Afghanistan and the Talibans but would like also to give a lesson to some other countries. Aren't you afraid that they go too far ?
President Mubarak: I don't think if we except may be some statements, because everybody is furious in the United States, because this is the biggest nation on earth, and such an act, a terrible act, has taken place. Everybody is upset: people are very angry not only in America, but everywhere. I don't think George W. Bush or his administration is going to punish other countries for some individuals who may be caught. There is suspicion about their act, so I don't think they will go beyond that.
Christian Malard: Don't you think they may attack Saddam Hussein ?
President Mubarak: Saddam Hussein did not participate in this. The problem of Iraq is something else. Let us focus on the terrorist actions and not spread on Iraq and go here and say, Libya, Syria. These countries had not participating in Terrorism at all. I understand very well from the countries in the Middle East that they are against Terrorism under any circumstances.
Christian Malard: Have you got the feeling, Mr. President, that "Jihad" has been declared by some Moslem Fundamentalist networks against the Western World and its leader the United States
President Mubarak: There are so many statements coming… Jihad here, Jihad there. Let us work on fighting against Terrorism. We could take these statements seriously and make a follow-up to know who made these statements, who they are, and make some kind of Intelligence work to reach those who are really interesting Terrorism. Because, let us take the example of the terrible actions against New York. There have been so many telephone calls: may be the Japanese Red Army will say they were behind it. Every movement will claim to have participated in these. It's a shame. But I don't think that whoever say that is responsible.
Christian Malard: Do you think that the Americans after this terrible tragedy will draw all the lessons and will be led to review their policy in the Near- and Middle-East, which has been, according to many observers up to high representatives of the French government officials considered as a calamity for long, long time ?
President Mubarak: I will now follow in Arabic… (translated from Arabic)
After what happened, I believe George W. Bush can't remain silent anymore and let Sharon do whatever he wants. If he does not interfere to stop the killings of Palestinian leaders and the destruction of houses, this will be at the origin of other actions which will harm American interests in the region and George Bush knows it full well.
The United States must find a just solution for both parties - Palestinians and Israelis - and give their rights to the Palestinians, without the Israelis touch to the Esplanade of Mosques. Not any one Arabic leader could accept Israeli sovereignty over this esplanade of Mosques.
Moslems can wage war for a century when it comes to religious questions, and the U.S. should take this into consideration.
Christian Malard: Mr. President, what chance do you have to be heard from the Bush Administration ?
President Mubarak: I hope to be heard. I think the Americans have understood all what I mentioned before. They understand very well. I think the Administration realized what has happened. We want a safe planet and unless the punishment is concrete and to the point, it may create more problems. There would be more terrorist generations in the future.
Christian Malard: Mr. President, I thank you very much for this interview.
(*) Christian Malard is the Paris-based Editor-in-Chief and Foreign Policy Special Correspondent with French TV 3 Corporation.Interview in French on France 3 TV