News / Middle East

Analysts Weigh In on Egypt Defense Chief’s Call for Friday Protests

In this image taken from Egypt State TV, Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi delivers a speech in Cairo, July 24, 2013.
In this image taken from Egypt State TV, Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi delivers a speech in Cairo, July 24, 2013.
Cecily Hilleary
Egypt's interim leadership is urging peaceful protests on Friday following a speech Wednesday by Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who called on Egyptians to take to the streets and support the military’s mandate to fight "violence and terrorism.”

"We urge citizens to commit to peacefulness, and the state is solely responsible for security," Ahmed al-Meslemany, media adviser to Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour, said Thursday.

The Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi say they will go ahead with their own rallies on Friday, despite General Sissi's statement.  They have planned at least 30 protests across the country. 

Senior Brotherhood spokesman Mohamed el-Beltagy says General Sissi is calling for what amounts to a civil war as a means of protecting “this military coup" and that he is calling for mass rallies in order to cement his status as de facto leader. 

"He is proving that he is the actual ruler of the country, and that the president, his vice president and the government do not hold any power,” Beltagy said.
 
Meanwhile, the Tamarod movement that organized protests last month that led to Morsi’s ouster has welcomed Sissi’s remarks.  Tamarod leader Mahmoud Bahr called on Egyptians Wednesday to support the military in Friday protests, saying the movement is happy that the armed forces will confront the “violence and terrorism” practiced by the Brotherhood.

Inciting conflict?

A member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi walks in front of graffiti depicting Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, army commander and defense minister, around Cairo University and Nahdet Misr Square in Giza July 23, 201A member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi walks in front of graffiti depicting Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, army commander and defense minister, around Cairo University and Nahdet Misr Square in Giza July 23, 201
x
A member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi walks in front of graffiti depicting Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, army commander and defense minister, around Cairo University and Nahdet Misr Square in Giza July 23, 201
A member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi walks in front of graffiti depicting Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, army commander and defense minister, around Cairo University and Nahdet Misr Square in Giza July 23, 201
But some observers worry that Sissi’s remarks could be interpreted by some, in addition to the Muslim Brotherhood, as a call to civil war. Wadah Khanfar, journalist and president of the pro-democracy think tank Sharq Forum, worries that Egypt may be learning that violence is the only method of political engagement. 

“Sissi, by his speech, put aside the civilian government facade he appointed and wanted to use as fig leaf, has exposed himself as the new pharaoh of Egypt,” he writes in the Huffington Post.

Addressing those concerns, Egypt’s prime minister today reminded the country that the interim government “is responsible for all of its sons,” and that peaceful protests are allowed, but the government will punish anyone who violates the law.

Sissi’s motives

In an editorial on the Arabist blogsite, reporter/analyst Steve Negus suggests Sissi has taken a potentially risky move by injecting himself and the military so strongly into mass politics.  He offers several possible motives: 
 
First, Sissi’s move may reflect the military’s growing fears that the Islamist insurgency in the Sinai could be spreading into the rest of the country.
 
Negus suggests that Sissi may be feeling pressure to deliver peace and security to the general population that last month turned to the military to help oust Morsi.  Negus also says that the defense chief may simply be fed up with the Islamists “thumbing their noses” at the military through ongoing rallies and acts of violence: 
 
“As the Brothers themselves learn, whoever is charge ultimately loses credibility when disorder is prolonged, even if the state swears up and down that it's the fault of opposition protesters or do-nothing police,” Negus writes.  
 
Finally, he states that the ongoing popularity of the military in Egypt may have prompted Sissi to run for president. 

U.S. Reaction

The U.S. State Department has expressed concern that Friday’s demonstrations could turn violent. 

“We are concerned that clashes would make it very difficult to reconcile and get ahead of cycles of unrest and instability,” spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at Wednesday’s daily briefing.  

“We remain focused on encouraging the interim government to move towards an inclusive process which includes elections – civilian elections, and we’re monitoring closely steps they’re taking to do just that,” she said.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: lina from: SAYEGH
July 25, 2013 4:14 PM
Egypt is a very strong country they knew how to distroy these Muslim brotherhood before they distroy the country like what happened in Syria, these brotherhood are a disease a colera hope that USA and Canada will wake up soon and watch out for these terrorists, don't listen to the media the muslim brotherhood a murderes and God bless General el Sissi he's a strong patriotic who helps Egypt to be strong again. God save Canada frm this invasion.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid