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

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs