The Egyptian ambassador to Ethiopia and permanent representative to the African Union, announced that Egypt took over the presidency of the African Peace and Security Council on Nov. 1. 

The African Peace and Security Council currently consists of 15 member states and is tasked to promoting peace, security and human development in Africa. Its role in Africa has been compared to the global role of the United Nations Security Council. Egypt is one of Africa’s most populous and powerful nations. With an annual GDP of almost $400 billion, Egypt ranks as Africa’s second largest economy after Nigeria and ahead of South Africa. 

The Egyptian ambassador, Mohammed Gad, warned that the African continent is currently facing numerous serious security challenges such as terrorism, ethnic violence, organized crime, climate change, natural disasters and domestic political turmoil in several member states. 

Gad stressed that the Egyptian presidency would prioritize the battle against terrorism and different extremist ideologies that currently plague countries across Africa. The terrorist threat is particularly severe in Central Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region, which divides sub-Saharan Africa from the predominantly Arab North African states. 

At home, Egypt has been fighting against the domestic extremist Muslim Brotherhood movement. Cairo has also been fighting against ISIS affiliated terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula, often cooperating with the Israeli intelligence and counter-terrorism experts. 

Gad stressed that the fight against terrorism was necessary in order to achieve regional stability, a prerequisite for being able to address other challenges such as climate change. 

“This is in the context of preparing for Egypt’s expected hosting of the UN Conference on Climate Change in 2022,” the Egyptian ambassador said. 

The Egyptian ambassador also said that the Peace and Security Council would address the need to confront the Islamist terrorist organization Al-Shabaab in Somalia. Another urgent political crisis is Sudan, which experienced a military coup in late October that has been condemned by the United States and much of the Western world. 

Meanwhile at home, Egypt has lifted the state of emergency that has been in place since 2017, the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi recently announced. 

Sisi addressed the improved security situation in Egypt. 

“Egypt has become … an oasis of security and stability in the region. Hence it was decided, for the first time in years, to cancel the extension of the state of emergency in all areas of the country,” Sisi wrote on Facebook. 

The Egyptian government imposed the state of emergency in April 2017 following several lethal bomb attacks on Egyptian churches. Despite a gradually improved security situation, the Sisi-led Cairo government continued to extend the state of emergency every three months until now. 

The state of emergency empowered the Egyptian government to extensively target and arrest individuals defined by Egyptian authorities as “enemies of the state.” 

While some of the crackdown focused on radical Islamists that threaten Egypt’s security, authorities have also targeted liberal regime critics and human rights activists. 

Egyptian citizens including the human rights activist Hossam Bahgat have welcomed the government’s decision to end the state of emergency. Tarek Radwan, the Head of the Human Rights Committee in the Egyptian Parliament, praised the decision to end the state of emergency. 

 “One of the greatest decisions issued by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, asserting that this decision is a very important step in the path of democracy,” Radwan wrote on Facebook. 

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