U.S. Markets closed

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris on Syria: 'All in all, I am for this strike'

Yen Nee Lee
  • "I think it's important to tell people that you cannot support a dictator that is gassing people and get away with it. All in all, I am for this strike," Naguib Sawiris told CNBC.
  • Sawiris, the second wealthiest man in Egypt, said Russia is a "superpower," but he noted he is not afraid of retaliation from Vladimir Putin.

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris said he's not opposed to recent military strikes on Syria , because "it's important to tell people that you cannot support a dictator that is gassing people and get away with it."

Sawiris made the comments on Monday after President Donald Trump over the weekend ordered "precision missile strikes" against the Syrian government in retaliation for a chemical attack against its citizens. France and Great Britain took part in the attacks as well.

"I'm not one of the people opposing the strike because ... if you say it's a red line and then do nothing like President Obama, then all that you do there is give people the green light to go and do stuff," Sawiris told CNBC's Hadley Gamble in Abu Dhabi.

"All in all, I am for this strike," he said.

In 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama chose not to use military force against Syria after the regime of Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. Obama had earlier warned that the United States would do so.

Russia is a 'superpower'

Following the weekend attack on Syria, Trump announced on Twitter that the strike was "perfectly carried out." In a speech, he called out Russia and Iran for backing the regime by Syrian President Assad.

The U.S. alleged that the Assad regime used chemical weapons to "terrorize and subdue both opposition fighters and the civilian population." The strike on the Syria was designed to destroy chemical weapons development infrastructure, the United States says.

But Sawiris, who is the second-richest man in Egypt with a net worth of $4.2 billion, said the attack by the U.S. and its allies was more of a "symbolic strike" and may do little to end Syria's "big mess" situation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday warned that further attacks on Syria would bring chaos to international order.

Russia is a "new superpower" that the world much reckon with, Sawiris said. But he added that he doesn't fear retaliatory actions by Putin.

"I'm not worried about retaliation unless everybody wants to go even more crazy than it already is," he said.

Disclosure: NBC Universal is a minority stakeholder in Euronews, which is majority-held by Naguib Sawiris.



More From CNBC