News / Middle East

As New Protests Loom, Egypt Military Seeks to Consolidate Role

Members of Egypt's Republican Guard Force are seen standing atop a tank near the presidential palace in Cairo (file photo).Members of Egypt's Republican Guard Force are seen standing atop a tank near the presidential palace in Cairo (file photo).
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Members of Egypt's Republican Guard Force are seen standing atop a tank near the presidential palace in Cairo (file photo).
Members of Egypt's Republican Guard Force are seen standing atop a tank near the presidential palace in Cairo (file photo).
Elizabeth Arrott
Egypt faces another round of rallies Friday, as the military calls on citizens to show support for their maintaining control. 
 
Egypt has rarely been without demonstrations in recent weeks, but Friday's is the first openly called for by the military.
 
"They come out to give me the mandate and order that I confront violence and potential terrorism," said armed forces chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. 
 
His warning offered little compromise with supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, who vow to stay on the streets until their leader is reinstated.
 
Their Muslim Brotherhood-led rallies have been flash points of violence. The army blames the protesters, but many contest those charges. 
 
Human rights analyst Priyanka Motaparthy said, "Consistently the police have attacked and broken up Brotherhood demonstrations and some have often done so from the position of opposition demonstrators.  What this means is that the state is seen to be taking a side in this political battle."
 
The violence, she said, reinforces the Islamists' sense that politics in Egypt has become a zero-sum game.
 
"The Muslim Brotherhood have a history of being detained and tortured in police detention. They have a history of being targeted for their political activities and not being able to participate in political life. They really see this as an existential crisis," she said. 
 
Brotherhood officials say they will not counter violence with violence.  But they warn that more extreme elements could take up arms to re-assert Islamist-dominated rule, raising the specter of civil conflict seen elsewhere in the region. 
 
Yet some political analysts say the Islamists' options are limited. 
 
Publisher Hisham Kassem said, "This is a country that lives on six percent of its land.  It has a real army.  The possibility for a civil war or guerrilla warfare extended is quite limited. This is not the extensive Algeria, where control is practically impossible. No. Six percent of the land. "
 
Kassem notes the military has already sent the message of no tolerance for perceived attacks, as during a protest outside Republican Guard headquarters earlier this month. Friday's pro-military rally, he noted, is simply confirmation, as Egypt still struggles with the idea of political compromise.

  • Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi attend Friday prayer at Nasr City, where protesters have installed their camp and hold daily rallies in Cairo, July 26, 2013.
  • Opponents of Mohamed Morsi during a protest at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, July 26, 2013.
  • An Egyptian military helicopter near the Cairo tower, Friday, July 26, 2013.
  • A man flashes victory signs at a military helicopter near the presidential palace in Cairo, July 26, 2013.
  • Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi atop a bridge during a rally around Rabaa Adawiya Square, Cairo July 26, 2013.
  • Supporters of Morsi during a demonstration outside the Egyptian embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 26, 2013.
  • A member of the Muslim Brotherhood at a rally around Rabaa Adawiya square, Cairo, July 26, 2013.
  • A military helicopter among clouds of smoke in Cairo, July 26, 2013.
  • In this image taken from Egypt State TV, Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi delivers a speech in Cairo, July 24, 2013.
  • Sand barriers set up by protesters near Cairo University in Giza, Egypt, July 23, 2013.
  • Firefighters extinguish a scooter that was set on fire during clashes between opponents and supporters of ousted President Morsi in Cairo, July 22, 2013.
  • Firefighters extinguish a scooter that was set on fire during clashes between opponents and supporters of ousted President Morsi in Cairo, July 22, 2013.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: keeq48 from: pakistan
July 26, 2013 4:26 AM
Unfortunately in Egypt its either military rule or mullah rule,no third option is available.

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