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

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs