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UAE will help but not interfere in Syria, says Mohammad Bin Rashid

UAE Vice-President discusses the lifting of sanctions against Iran, UAE getting involved in the Syrian conflict and future of Egypt

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Image Credit: WAM
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Dubai: It’s better for the future of Egypt that General Abdul Fatah Al Sissi stays on as its army chief and someone else runs for the country's presidency, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has said in an interview.

According to an official source at the Prime Minister’s office, the statements by Shaikh Mohammad, regarding the candidacy of General Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, Egypt’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, is just a brotherly advice, reported WAM.

The official clarified that Shaikh Mohammad has advised Al Sissi not to stand in presidential elections as a military candidate, but it would be a personal matter if he wants to run for presidency as a civil candidate in response to people’s demands.

The source reiterated that the UAE would always stand by Egypt and its people and support the Egyptian people’s choices, WAM added.

Shaikh Mohammad also told BBC World News that the UAE will "help but not interfere" in the ongoing Syrian conflict, and suggested that sanctions against Iran be lifted for the benefit of the whole region.

Among other issues, Shaikh Mohammad shared his thoughts on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the progress of human rights in the UAE during the wide-ranging interview with the BBC's Jon Sopel, which will be broadcast on BBC World News on Monday.

Here are excerpts from the interview, as provided by the news channel:

On Syria

Jon Sopel: Can President [Bashar Al] Assad stay in power?

Shaikh Mohammad: Assad will take a long time...but if you kill your people you can't stay...eventually he will go"

JS: Why not get involved like Qatar?

SM: "We are supporting the people in Jordan or Turkey, we are helping those but the free [Syrian] army you don't know, because there's some extremists, and you don't know how many groups there are. You hear that some groups are fighting each other….Maybe Qatar have a reason or a vision, but here...we don't want to interfere with other people…we should help but not interfere.”

On Egypt

JS: Is Egypt better off without [Mohammad] Mursi?

SM: Much better and I tell you why....[i said] they will last only one year then the people and the army will sort that out. It's better for Egypt.

JS: Regarding General Sissi's future?

SM: I hope he stays in the army. And someone else [stands] for the presidency'.

JS: So better that he stays head of the army than being head of state?

SM: That's what I think.

On Israel

SM: [Providing there is a peace agreement signed] “we will do everything with Israel - we will trade with them and we will welcome them - but sign the peace process.”

On Iran

JS: Should sanctions be lifted against Iran now that there's an outline agreement on inspecting Iran's nuclear sites?

SM: “I think so and give Iran a space. Iran is our neighbour and we don't want any problem.... lift the sanctions and everyone will benefit....”
“I think that they're telling the truth when they say just for civilian power. I talked to Ahmadinejad and he said ‘if I send a rocket to Israel, how many Palestinians will I kill. And then the US and Europe will destroy my cities. I'm not crazy to go for that. It's a weapon of the past’."

On horse racing doping scandal

SM: “I was shocked. Really....they gave him [his trainer, Mahmood Al Zarooni] eight years and I gave him a lifetime. Finished.....He will never come near my horses....he doped them not for racing, but for treatment long term.”

SM: [On the Lord Stephens inquiry] “Now Lord Stephens will find out the whole story and we will all know what happened....the truth will come out.”

On Human Rights

JS: Following release of an American prisoner last week, jailed for a video mocking youth culture - was his treatment fair?

SM: “No. We try to change it. We are not perfect and we try to change it. Any mistakes, we go in and try to change it. We're not perfect, but we are doing our best.”