Egypt’s army chief seeks mandate to fight violence


Gen. Abdel Fatah el-SissiEgypt’s army chief who led the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday called for Egyptians to stage mass rallies later this week in support of the interim military-backed regime.

In a speech Wednesday, Gen. Abdel Fatah el-Sissi called on supporters to fill public squares across the country on Friday in support of a campaign by the army and police against “violence” and “terrorism.”

His comments were a reference to the deadly clashes between opponents and supporters of Morsi, which have left dozens dead, and to a surge in suspected Islamic militancy in the Sinai Peninsula.

“I am asking the Egyptians next Friday, all of you come down. Why? To delegate me to face the violence and terrorism,” he said in his speech at a graduation ceremony for naval and air defense forces.

“If violence is used, the army will fulfill whatever measures to combat violence and terrorism.”

His comments came hours after two people were killed in Cairo when pro-Morsi demonstrators marched from a neighborhood to the location of the sit-in where protesters have been camped out since the president’s July 3 ouster.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s ministry of health said 19 people were injured when a bomb – possibly a hand grenade – was thrown at a police station in the city of Mansoura, capital of Dakhalia province.

The ministry said civilians were among the injured but it did not give a breakdown.

Civil war
The Muslim Brotherhood accused Egypt’s army chief of ‘calling for a civil war after he called for demonstrations on Friday to endorse the army’s efforts to combat terrorism.

A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed el-Beltagy, said General Sisi had installed himself as leader of Egypt, and was clearly concerned that position was under threat.

El-Sissi’s call was also condemned by a senior member of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, according to Reuters

“Your threat will not stop the millions from continuing to gather,” Essam El-Erian wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday, calling el-Sissi “a coup leader who kills women, children and those at prayer.”

F-16 Delivery halted

US President Barack Obama, in his first punitive response to the ouster of Morsi as president of Egypt, has halted the delivery of four F-16 fighter planes to the Egyptian Air Force, according to a report by the New York Times

Obama, administration officials said, wanted to send Egypt’s military-led government a signal of American displeasure with the chaotic situation there, which has been marked by continued violence, the detention of Morsi and other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a transition that has not included the Brotherhood.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel relayed the decision to Gen. el-Sissi, a senior US official said, and did not say when the Pentagon might reschedule the delivery.

“Given the current situation in Egypt, we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s,” the Pentagon press secretary, George Little, said Wednesday. He did not cite any specific actions by the Egyptian military.

In the immediate aftermath of Morsi’s ouster, the US administration said it did not plan to halt the F-16 shipment. But officials said they were disturbed by how events have unfolded since then.