The Obama administration is quietly reviewing the future of America’s three-decade deployment to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula,
Armed primarily with light weapons, armored personnel carriers and similarly limited materiel, the forces lack the capacity to take on Islamic State or other militants across the sparsely populated, desert territory. As a result, officials said, the Obama administration has been conducting an “interagency review” of the U.S. posture in the Sinai. . Some 700 members of an Army battalion and logistics support unit are currently there. They mainly monitor and verify compliance, and have little offensive capability. Several other countries also provide personnel. Camp David Accords, which led to the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, legally mandate the presence of the two American military units, the U.S. can remove them — at least temporarily — if they’re in imminent danger. The agreed basis for a peaceful settlement of the conflict between Israel and its neighbors is United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, 17 September 1978,
[July 02 Egyptian militants have ambitions to seize Shiekh Zuwayid]
Islamic militants on July 1 unleashed a wave of simultaneous attacks, including suicide car bombings, on Egyptian army checkpoints in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, killing tens of soldiers, security and military officials said. Airstrikes by the Egyptian Air Force were centered on the northern Sinai town of Shiekh Zuwayid, an Apache helicopter gunship destroyed one of the armored carriers captured by the militants.
The territory, characterized by hardscrabble towns, desert and mountainous areas suitable for guerrilla operations, has long been neglected by the government. Local Bedouin tribesmen have grown to resent Cairo, turning to smuggling, organized crime and, in some cases, radical Islam.
The sustained attack — the first of its kind — suggested the militants have ambitions to seize an entire city.
[July 1 Barakat dead on second anniversary of Morsi riots]
Egyptian Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat died of injuries sustained in an apparent remote-controlled bombing. Barakat had suffered multiple shrapnel wounds to the shoulder, chest and liver on the eve of the second anniversary of the massive demonstrations against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood that paved the way, days later, for the military coup to oust the president and ultimately install Sissi as Egypt’s leader.
[June 8 2014 el-Sissi wins the May 26-27 election]
Egypt’s retired Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi unequivocally rejected any political reconciliation with the Brotherhood, which was Egypt’s most powerful political force until el-Sissi removed President Mohammed Morsi in the 2013 summer.
Asked whether the group will no longer exist under his presidency, el-Sissi replied, “Yes. Just like that.”
“It’s not me that finished it, the Egyptians have. The problem is not with me,” he said.
He said the Brotherhood’s ideology was based on “arrogance in religion” — and the presence of that strain of thought had destabilized Egyptian society for decades.
“The thought structure of these groups says that we are not true Muslims, and they believed conflict was inevitable because we are non-believers,” he said. “It will not work for there to be such thinking again.”
[March 11 2012]
Secretary of State John Kerry is wrapping up a visit to Egypt with an appeal for unity and reform to the country’s president and military chief.
In December when the political crisis deepened over Mursi’s November 22 decree rejected by the opposition, the army invited all political factions, including the president, to lunch in a military building with the aim of defusing tensions.
Mursi initially agreed, seeing the invitation as a way out of the dilemma while mass protests were held outside the presidential palace denouncing his measures. The opposition said it would attend. Suddenly the invitation was cancelled. the Brotherhood concluded that all political factions would show up for the function sponsored by the army while most of these factions rejected a call for dialogue made by the president. Military sources said the president was behind the cancellation.
The Egyptian army is now engaged in a political redeployment, a key feature of which is keeping a distance from the presidency. At the same time, the military establishment is projecting itself in a new light as being above all sides to the current political struggle. The army is likely to emerge as a guardian of the state, who monitors the political players’ performances.
“In essence, the military will not allow national stability or its own institutional privileges to come under threat from a breakdown in Egypt’s social fabric or a broad-based civil strife,” said Michael W. Hanna, an Egypt expert from the New York-based Century Foundation.
“This is not an ideological army or one that seeks to destabilize civilian governance. … But it is also not an army that will sit by while the country reaches the tipping point on the path to civil strife.”
The latest friction began when a rumor circulated that Morsi planned to replace Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, his defense minister and the army chief, because of his resistance to bringing the military under the sway of the Brotherhood-dominated government.
El-Sissi may have angered Morsi last month when he signaled the military’s readiness to step in, warning that the state would collapse if no solution was found to the political crisis. Pointedly, he also spoke of how the military faces a dilemma in marrying the task of protecting state installations in restive locations with its resolve not to harm peaceful protesters.
In another provocative comment earlier this month, el-Sissi was quoted as saying he would never allow the armed forces to be dominated by the Brotherhood, or any other group, stressing the military’s national identity.
The rumor about el-Sissi’s dismissal was widely suspected to be a trial balloon floated by the Muslim Brotherhood to gauge military and public reaction.
The military did not officially respond. But widely published comments attributed to an anonymous military source threatened that any attempt to remove the military’s top commanders would be “suicide” for the government and spoke of widespread anger within the armed forces.
The source was quoted as saying the public will not accept any meddling in the military and will close ranks to counter any pressures or challenges.
The military distanced itself from the comments on a statement posted on its official Facebook page. But the situation was deemed serious enough for Morsi’s office to issue a statement late Monday that appeared aimed at calming the military.
It reassured commanders of the administration’s appreciation of the armed forces and said the president had confidence in el-Sissi.
“The two sides may be publicly dismissing reports of tension, but the army is making it very clear to the presidency that any attempt to dismiss el-Sissi would backfire,” said military analyst and retired army Gen. Mohammed Qadri Said.
“They claim mutual love and respect, but what is happening is not indicative of this.”
The military also handed Morsi a public humiliation when army commanders chose not to enforce a night curfew he imposed on three restive Suez Canal cities in riots last month.
Major General Sedki Sobhi, the chief of staff, said the Ary will avoid politics.
Diplomats and analysts suggest the army, fearful of further damaging a reputation that took a beating during a messy transition period when it was in charge, would only act if Egypt faced unrest on the scale of the revolt that toppled Mubarak. Protests and violence now are nowhere near that stage.
Sean F. McMahon is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the American University in Cairo.
He writes: On 29 January 2013, the Egyptian military, now headed by General al-Sisi, said: “[t]he continuing conflict between political forces and their differences concerning the management of the country could lead to a collapse of the state and threaten future generations.” a warning to the military’s junior partner in governing that it risks replacement lest it arrest the instability threatening the military’s extensive material interests in the Egyptian political economy. the military, as the most powerful force in the country, displaced its junior partner, the monopoly capital class represented by Gamal Mubarak, when the partner became an untenable liability. Then, the military secured the Muslim Brotherhood, representative of the competitive capital class, as its junior partner. This replacement of one junior partner with another amounted to a restoration of the prevailing political order in the sense that another sector of capital had consented to govern with the military while Egypt’s subordinate and supportive position in the global order, and the rents the military derives from maintaining that position, were perpetuated.
[December 9 2012]
Following El-Sisi’s appointment, accusations originally propagated by controversial anti-revolutionary talk show host Tawfik Okasha in June that he is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or “their man in SCAF” were again leveled at the general. Rumours have also spread that his wife wears the niqab (full face veil).
Mutaz Abdul Fattah, a professor at Cairo University, also said Gen Sisi did not belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, writing on Twitter: “He is not a member of the Brotherhood; he is just a religious man.”
The newspaper, al-Tahrir, also reported that Gen Sisi had “strong ties with US officials on both diplomatic and military levels”.
He had studied in Washington, attended several military conferences there, and engaged in “joint co-operation with regard to war games and intelligence operations in recent years”, it said.
Army separates rival protests in Cairo in front of Palace
The relatively small show of force by Egypt’s military — seven tanks, 10 armored trucks and a few dozen soldiers who set out coils of barbed wire — followed a meeting that included Morsi; his newly appointed, young and openly Islamist defense minister, Abdul Fatah Khalil al-Sisi; Gen. Hamid Zaki, the newly appointed head of the Republican Guard, considered a Morsi loyalist; and other officials.
Although the move by the Republican Guard by no means indicates that Morsi has deep or widespread support in the military, which is as divided and complex as Egypt itself, it suggested that the army remains the ultimate arbiter of power in post-revolutionary Egypt, just as it has been for decades.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is the new head of the Egyptian military and 44th defense minister in the history of the modern Egyptian army since its formation more than 200 years ago. In his mid-50s, he is one of the youngest members of the military council that was previously headed by Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi.
Sisi was appointed to his new position amid major changes made by President Mohamed Morsy in which the older ranks of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, including Tantawi and Chief of Staff Sami Anan, were sent to retirement.
Colonel General Abdul Fatah Saeed Hussein Khalil Al-Sisi (Arabic: عبد الفتاح سعيد حسين خليل السيسي, IPA: [ʕæbdel.fætˈtæːħ sæˈʕiːd ħeˈseːn xæˈliːl esˈsiːsi]; born 19 November 1954) is an Egyptian Colonel General. He is the Commander-In-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces since 12 August 2012. He also serves in Hesham Kandil’s government as Minister of Defense and Military Production since 12 August 2012 and as Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
Robert Springborg, “both sides are looking to the military to decide the future of the country where they are unable as civilians to work it out between themselves.” an expert on the Egyptian military at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Behind all the accusations and the seemingly minor procedural objections lies something more basic: Egyptians simply may not agree on the fundamental attributes of the modern nation state. Should the state be ideologically neutral, or should it be an enforcer of morality, intent on creating virtuous families and virtuous individuals? Egyptians, and most of the Arab world for that matter, haven’t really had this conversation until now.
A poll conducted this month by the University of Maryland found that Dr. Aboul Fotouh was leading, with 32 percent of respondents saying they favored him, while Mr. Moussa came in second with 28 percent. Mr. Shafiq garnered 14 percent and Mr. Morsi 8 percent.
[May 15]An opinion poll published by the independent Al Shorouk newspaper earlier this month, showed Abul-Fotouh in the lead with 20.8 per cent support, followed by Moussa with 16 per cent and Shafiq with 15.2 per cent.
“It’s a poker game,” said Ahmed Said, head of the liberal Free Egyptians party, describing the talks he attended on May 2 between political party leaders and military ruler Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who is also defense minister. The army has been hosting the cross-party talks to resolve a row over the make-up of an assembly that was to write the new constitution. Liberals walked out of the assembly picked by parliament, saying it had too many Islamists. The revolt that gripped the world and inspired Arabs has stumbled under the transition managed by the generals who took charge when Mubarak, a former air force commander, was forced out.
Sporadic street protests still flare, but change is now being dictated by a tortuous tug-of-war between the civilian politicians and the army, a pillar of Mubarak’s rule which is set to remain a major power broker long after it formally hands over to a new president by July 1. The army kept its distance from politics, confident the president was guarding its interests. In the meantime, the military gained privileges and built up sprawling business interests ranging from a military industrial complex to factories bottling water, operating almost as a parallel state. One way the army will keep a grip will be through a proposed National Security Council, widely endorsed by candidates. This would include senior ministers, speakers of parliament and army commanders. Officers privately say it would give them a broad say on issues ranging from waging war to bread shortages.
The army also wants to keep its budget protected from deep public scrutiny in parliament.