News / Middle East

Egyptian Military's Sissi Denounces US

Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi hold a large Egyptian national flag as they chant slogans against Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in Cairo, Aug. 2, 2013.
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi hold a large Egyptian national flag as they chant slogans against Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in Cairo, Aug. 2, 2013.
VOA News
Egyptian military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has strongly criticized the United States for refusing to explicitly endorse his ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last month.
In a rare interview granted to a foreign news organization, an angry Sissi told The Washington Post that the Obama administration  "turned (its) back on the Egyptians, and they won't forget that."
The comments, published Saturday, were made as Washington attempted to remain neutral in Egypt's political crisis between the Sissi-backed interim government and the Islamist supporters of the ousted president.
Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement also has criticized the Obama administration, accusing it of acquiescing to a coup against the former president, whom the military forced from power on July 3.
Washington has declined to call the ouster a "coup" as doing so would force it to cut an estimated $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt, a key U.S. military ally.
In the interview, Sissi, who also serves as defense minister, urged the United States to press Egyptian Islamists to end a month-long series of protests and sit-ins against the ouster of Morsi.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met with allies of Morsi and held separate talks with interim Egyptian leaders in Cairo on Saturday as part of Western efforts to mediate between the two sides. EU special envoy Bernardino Leon also joined the meetings. They marked the second visit by Burns to Egypt in recent weeks.
The Pentagon said Sissi assured U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a phone call that Egypt's interim government is "working toward a process of national reconciliation."
Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said the government has "no desire" to use force to clear two protest camps occupied by tens of thousands of Morsi supporters in Cairo.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Fahmy said all political groups are invited to take part in implementing the government's road map for restoring democracy, if those groups renounce violence.
"We cannot truly achieve reconciliation, no matter how hard we try, if there is a continuation of incitement of violence or a continuation of violence out on the street, and that will obviously lead to a reaction," he said.
In a separate nationally televised address, interior ministry spokesman Hany Abdel-Latif promised the protesters "safe passage" if they leave the camps.
But, he also accused Islamist protest organizers of brainwashing the demonstrators and being involved in murders, torture and abductions.
The Egyptian government said Friday it plans to set up barriers around the two sit-ins as part of a strategy to shut them down.
Political violence involving Morsi supporters and opponents has killed almost 300 people since his removal from power, many of them Islamists shot and killed by security forces.
Signs of possible compromises
Morsi allies showed some willingness to compromise on Saturday.
Brotherhood representative Amr Darag told the Associated Press that the group would consider entering talks with the government in return for confidence-building steps. He said they include the release of detained Islamist leaders, the unfreezing of Brotherhood assets, and the lifting of a ban on the group's TV stations.
Another spokesman for the pro-Morsi camp told Reuters that it wants to "respect all political desires" of the Egyptian people, a reference to secular and liberal groups who opposed the Islamist president and backed his overthrow.
But, Tarek el-Malt also demanded the restoration of the Islamist-drafted constitution that was suspended by the military and rejected any political leadership role for Sissi.
Previously, the Muslim Brotherhood movement has focused on its demand for the reinstatement of Morsi as president.
In an interview on VOA's Press Conference USA, William Lawrence, the former head of the International Crisis Group's North Africa Project, said the Muslim Brotherhood has continued to receive broad support because it is viewed as credible.
"The Brothers are seen as less corrupt and less corruptible," he said. "The idea is that you are going to get good governance from the Brothers, because as independent political actors, they were less corrupt and so they had a certain popular legitimacy — moral legitimacy."
Sissi told The Washington Post that he does not aspire to authority, but he also did not explicitly rule out running for president in the future.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 05, 2013 10:40 AM
I want to disagree with William Lawrence that the brotherhood is receiving any support because it is credible. We can agree that the brotherhood has had good following in the past. But that was before its blunder under Morsi's presidency. We should recall that during the uprising leading to the 2012 elections, the brotherhood received support from moderates, secular and Christians fronts, all because Egypt wanted out with the military rule at the time. However under Morsi they saw something worse than the military rule, thus they asked for a restart from square one.

Right now what the brotherhood has is past glory and a coercive recourse to get former members of the brotherhood to mob action, because the people are still afraid to turn their back to the iron fist of sharia as the group is wont to turning the situation into an islamic affair and accuse those who refuse to turn up at the demonstrations of turning away from islam - which is suicidal as long as sharia and the brotherhood are concerned. So it is not based on popularity but on coercion and the fear of being accused of abandoning the religion. However, it is commendable that the Muslim Brotherhood is beginning to see reason to move the country forward. Egypt is above any and every individual person. The earlier they recognize that, the better for Egypt and all of Africa.

by: Oxen
August 04, 2013 7:05 PM
Al-Sisi the liar, puppet general, the tyrnat of Egypt. He is trying to fool the mobs that he is a patriot, no sale for sure. He is a puppet of the West and is brutalizing Egyptians and needs to go now.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 05, 2013 10:50 AM
Oxen here sounds like an al-qaida operative. Sounds so bitter the way that can lead to a civil war in Egypt while all El Sissi did was save the people's revolution. Please take a bottle of gulder, it'll help manage your temper.

by: Markt
August 04, 2013 9:47 AM
Those people...they can't have it both ways. If America stuck its nose in, they would be condemning us for it...if we do nothing, they condemn us for doing nothing. I have always believed that America should never get involved in the internal development of any country, whether that country is fighting with itself or not. It is their issue, let them resolve it in the manner of their choosing. If we endorsed the Egyptian military's efforts and they lost, they would be blaming us for it.

by: Human from: Mother Earth
August 04, 2013 1:17 AM
The truth in most simple words:
* Revolution against Mobarak’s regime was launched and carried out mainly by democrats and laic people. During that decisive period, the Brothers showed much reluctance and much neutrality towards the Egyptain’s uprise. They stayed out, until they noticed the real success of the revolution and the imminent overthrowing of Mobarak’s regime. Then, they seized the opportunity. They rode the wave of the Egyptian spring on a twofold surf: Egyptians being Muslims in their greatest majority and Islam as a doctrine which actually condemns any sort of corruption, including conspiracy against the Palestinian people, especially against Hamas.
* When they came to power, the Brothers under the ruling of Morsi underestimated the pressure of Isral and the western world to preserve and promote their shared interests and dominance over the Middle East. The Egyptian Military on the other hand have always been aware of that pressure and of the dangerous consequences a resistance to those shared interests can actually have on the security of Egypt in general.
* Morsi and his supporters set up a constitution that fortifies their position and guarantees the continuity of their regime in the future, while many of the true revolutionary powers who were actually behind the fall of Mobarak were marginalized and made desperate.
* Thus, they found themselves facing enemies from inside (opposition and Military) and from outside Egypt (Israel and the west, especially USA and its allies). The opposition provided what all the other enemies needed so badly; those enemies backed and seized the opposition movement and rode the anti-Morsi wave, just like the brothers had ridden the anti-Mobarak wave.
Any solution?
Two solutions: a short-term and a long term solution.
1. Short-term solution: a compromise between the two Egyptian parties, involving an impartial revision of the Egyptian constitution. This is not a durable solution however.
2. Long-term solution: the imperial powers, namely Israel and its supporters should make up their mind by calling for deeper insights into the exigencies of the present and future world. Our world, now and more than ever before, is like a masterpiece of mosaic; globalization and modern technology has made it as such. All the parts of our composite globe do need each other, and the anomaly of one part can bring about the collapse of the whole mosaic. Israel does not fit in the masterpiece; it should be tailored to fit with its surrounding parts. We need a global religion on the basis of an international scale: on the basis of universal equality, global democracy and constructive cooperation. Our local religions, if any, should be kept to only give color to the different parts of the mosaic, not to constitute the essence of it. This requires higher-order brains and hearts.

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