Egypt: Al-Sisi’s Speech, nothing but a call for civil war
Yesterday, general Al-Sisi gave a speech in which he called upon the Egyptian people to take to the streets this Friday and protests against the Muslim Brotherhood and the supporters of Morsi, and to delegate and give a mandate to the military power to prosecute what he called the “war on terror.” This speech reminds me of Gaddafi’s speech known as the “Zenga Zenga” speech. In fact, in my opinion, the recklessnesses of both speeches is remarkable.
Al-Sisi’s speech is nothing but a blatant call for total civil war in Egypt. His speech would effectively pit Egyptians against Egyptians, and would lead to death and mayhem. I am not putting a negative spin on the speech; it is just that the speech is too negative to even find a little nugget of hope in it. It is a speech that leads Egypt toward military rule and away from democracy; it is a speech that worsen the political polarization and weaken the prospects of peaceful reconciliation; it is a speech that is meant to drape the military in some sort of popular legitimacy; it is a speech that would lead ultimately to clashes and violence, which would give the military the necessary justification to ban the Muslim Brotherhood and the Justice and Development Party. And as Marina Ottaway noted in the Washington Post, “Egypt is at a critical juncture. It can easily slide toward renewed authoritarian rule under military tutelage. Indeed, many supporters of the Mubarak regime cannot hide their glee at recent events. But such a regime would have to be even more repressive than Hosni Mubarak’s because Islamists are more mobilized, more organized — and angry.”
Of course, the reaction to the speech has been extremely negative, as expected. Hardly anyone respected editorial page or respected journalist and scholar has found anything positive in the speech. Several Egyptians condemned the speech and called it reckless and dangerous. Religious scholars such as Al-Qaradawi called the speech a call for fitna. Other non-Islamist Egyptians called the speech troubling and scary as it would inches Egypt toward the brink of civil war.
I decided to post the video of Al-Sisi speech as well as the reactions to the speech.
Al-Sisi’s “Zenga Zenga” speech
- Link to Dr Mohamed Selim Al Awa–legal scholar, former presidential candidate & former advisor to Al-Sadat & Mubarak–reaction to Al-Sisi’s speech
Egypt’s Sissi is not moving toward democracy
By Marina Ottaway and David Ottaway, Published: July 25
The writers are senior scholars at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. David Ottaway was The Post’s bureau chief in Cairo from 1981 to 1985.
Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, Egypt’s new deputy prime minister and de facto strongman, has called on Egyptians to take to the streets Friday to give the armed forces and police a “mandate” to crack down on violence and terrorism. With that call, the July 3 deposition of elected President Mohamed Morsi looks increasingly like a Nasser-style military takeover rather than the popular revolution Morsi’s secular opponents claim.
There was, of course, much opposition to Morsi and much support for his overthrow. Evidence is growing, however, that the campaign to collect signatures against him was not waged entirely by idealistic young Egyptians but instead had received ample support from state security forces. And now that the military is firmly in control, it is seeking to mobilize popular support to legitimize its political role.
There is a precedent for this in Egyptian history. In July 1952, the Free Officers carried out a coup d’etat, forcing King Farouk into exile and putting the military at the center of Egypt’s political life, where it has remained. Within a few months, the new government had banned all political parties and launched the National Liberation Rally, a mass movement to mobilize people in support of the revolution. Clashes between the Liberation Rally and the Muslim Brotherhood at Cairo University in 1954 became the pretext for banning the Brotherhood, which had initially supported the coup. Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was to emerge as president, also used the rally to increase his own popularity and shunt aside rivals favoring a return to multiparty rule.
The fact that Sissi’s call for popular mobilization in support of the military came one day after the anniversary of the 1952 coup, and in the wake of violence at Cairo University between pro- and anti-Morsi groups, makes that history strikingly contemporary. The call for massive demonstrations increases the likelihood that history will repeat itself — the question now is to what extent.
Already, this has made the road map toward democratic rule more difficult for Egyptians to follow. Friday’s demonstrations will amount to a public referendum for a crackdown aimed especially at the Muslim Brotherhood, contradicting the repeated calls by interim President Adly Mansour for national reconciliation.
These demonstrations will make reconciliation impossible. Turnout is expected to be large. Violence is quite likely, and no matter how incidents start, Morsi’s supporters are sure to be blamed. The military will claim that it has a popular mandate to put an end to terrorism and violence, and mass arrests of Muslim Brothers and other Islamists will follow.
It’s not clear whether this will become the pretext for banning the Muslim Brotherhood anew, as a violent, terrorist organization. Many lawsuits calling for its disbanding have been filed in Egyptian courts, and the Ministry of Social Solidarity has said that it is considering dissolving the group if senior Brotherhood leaders jailed since July 3 are found guilty of inciting violence. Egyptian courts have invariably ruled against the Brotherhood since 2012, making a guilty verdict all too likely.
The Obama administration has finally awakened to the fact that Egypt’s military has seized power. Accordingly, the United States has suspended the scheduled delivery of four F-16s. This is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. The administration must insist that the will of the Egyptian people be measured by election results, not fanciful estimates of crowd sizes. To be accepted as truly democratic, the parliamentary and presidential elections the military has promised to hold within a few months must include Islamist parties, notably the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. The presence of international observers — which the interim Egyptian government says it will allow — is merely window dressing if one of the major contenders is excluded.
Egypt is at a critical juncture. It can easily slide toward renewed authoritarian rule under military tutelage. Indeed, many supporters of the Mubarak regime cannot hide their glee at recent events. But such a regime would have to be even more repressive than Hosni Mubarak’s because Islamists are more mobilized, more organized — and angry.
But Egypt could choose to continue on the long road to reform, accepting pluralism and the uncertainties and compromises such a system imposes. The United States cannot make that decision. But U.S. officials must make clear to the Egyptian military and its supporters, as well as to Islamists, that Washington will choose its friends, and that they do not include regimes that curb popular participation at the polls in favor of street mobilization. This is a hallmark of authoritarianism, not democracy.
Read more on this topic: Jackson Diehl: Egypt’s ‘democrats’ abandon democracy Reuel Marc Gerecht: Egypt’s Islamists will endure The Post’s View: Egypt ignores Washington after U.S. policy missteps John McCain and Lindsey Graham: Cut off aid to Egypt
Egyptian general’s call for protest raises fears of something worse
By Max Fisher, Updated: July 24, 2013
When Egyptian military chief and coup leader Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi called, in a speech broadcast by state media Wednesday, for Egyptian demonstrations to “come out to give me the mandate and order that I confront violence and potential terrorism,” many heard something more than a call for peaceful protest against terrorism. Some worried that the speech was meant to build public support for a campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood or even as a dog whistle call for mass mobilization against the Islamist group.
“I’ve never asked you for anything,” Sissi declared, wearing dark sunglasses and full military dress. “I’m asking you to show the world. If violence is sought, or terrorism is sought, the military and the police are authorized to confront this.”
Since ousting President Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist, in early July, the military has cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood, arresting some of its most senior members. Several pro-Morsi protesters have been killed in clashes. Animosity between the Brotherhood and the military, both of which have deep bases of support in Egyptian society, goes back decades. Some analysts suspect that Sissi is hoping that, just as mass protests against Morsi paved the way for the military’s coup, another round of demonstrations against “terrorism” may provide justification for a further crackdown on the Brotherhood. The military, since taking power in early July, has portrayed Egyptian Islamists as terrorists.
Tamarod, a protest collective that helped organize this summer’s anti-Morsi protests, posted a message on Facebook calling for Egyptians to heed Sissi’s calls for demonstrations as a way to “support the Egyptian armed forces in the coming war against terrorism and cleansing the land of Egypt.”
Violence is indeed worsening in Egypt, and apparently not just from the military. Late on Tuesday, a bomb exploded outside a police station, killing one and wounding 19 others, and raising fears that some Islamists may resort to violence. The attack brings the total death toll since Morsi’s ouster to perhaps 190.
Gehad el-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, warned on Twitter that he believed Sissi’s speech was a call for mass violence against the Brotherhood. While Haddad has been known to exaggerate, he may not be the only member of the Islamist group who fears persecution from the military.
Egypt’s military chief accused of declaring ‘civil war’ against Muslim Brotherhood
The leader of Egypt’s military coup stands accused of sparking “civil war” after calling for a mass demonstration to counter the unrest sparked by this month’s deposing of President Mohammed Morsi.
Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi calles on Egyptians to hold mass demonstrations to voice their support for the military Photo: APBy Colin Freeman: 24 Jul 2013
General Abdulfattah al-Sisi, who removed Mr Morsi from power in a coup backed by the president’s secular and liberal opponents, urged Egyptians to turn out on Friday to give him a “mandate” to quell violence at recent anti-government protests.
“On Friday, every honourable and honest Egyptian must come out,” he said during a speech at a graduation ceremony for military cadets in the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria on Wednesday. “Please, shoulder your responsibility with me, your army and the police, and show your size and steadfastness in the face of what is going on.”
In an indication of America’s equivocal stance on the matter, Washington, which has been reluctant to label the unrest a coup, said that the sale of four F-16 jets to Egypt had been delayed, but that its annual military exercise with Egypt was still on.
George Little, a Pentagon press secretary, said the delay was deemed “prudent” in light of the “current situation”, but said there had been no decision made on whether to suspend the $1.3 billion (£840 million) in annual military aid to the country.
More than 100 people have been killed in the three weeks since Mr Morsi was toppled, as supporters of the former president have clashed with both supporters of the coup and the security forces.
Islamic militants have also stepped up attacks on troops in Egypt’s lawless Sinai Peninsula, with two soldiers killed in an ambush on Wednesday and a car bomb near a police training centre.
While Gen Sisi’s comments did not specifically name one political faction or another, they were seen as an attempt to seek public backing for a decisive move against supporters of Mr Morsi, who have vowed to stage street protests until he is returned to power.
The former president is currently in detention along with a number of other top figures in his Muslim Brotherhood movement.
A statement from the Brotherhood said Mr Sisi’s comments were “an announcement of civil war.”
Egypt’s public prosecutor on Thursday night issues fresh arrest warrants for senior Brotherhood figures over accusations of inciting violence.
Dr Wael Haddara, a senior Morsi aide who is visiting London this week, described Friday’s planned demonstration as a “mob action” that was likely to encourage the very kind of state-sponsored violence it purported to avoid.
“The expectation is that the protesters will be painted as terrorists, with all stops then pulled out to get rid of them, on the pretext of ridding the country of terrorism,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
Dr Haddara is due to speak at a meeting on Thursday in the House of Lords, where he will outline the Brotherhood’s concern at the West’s ambiguous attitude to Mr Morsi’s overthrow. The Brotherhood says that Britain and the US were far too muted in their condemnation of the coup, which they point out removed a democratically-elected government. They argue that had the army removed a secular government at Islamists’ behest, rather than the other way around, the criticism in the West would have been far greater.
“My message to the House of Lords and to Britons in general is that they need to decide what they stand for,” said Dr Haddara. “Is it expediency, to deal with whoever is in power, or do they actually believe in democracy?”
“The entire Muslim world is watching, and if the West just twiddles its thumbs and allows democracy in Egypt to be strangled, then many people may decide that there is not point in listening to Western lectures on democracy.”
07/04/2013 11:38 AM
Egypt’s Cunning General
How the Military Plans to Keep Power
Egyptian President Morsi has been toppled, and a judge will be the country’s new interim leader. But in reality, he’s just a puppet. Behind the scenes, General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and his military apparatus will continue to call the shots.
Adly Mansour’s rise to power has been a rapid one. On Monday, the career judge was sworn in as chief justice of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court. By Wednesday night, President Mohammed Morsi had been deposed, the constitution suspended, and Mansour was declared the country’s new interim leader, set to be sworn in on Thursday. Along with a cabinet of technocrats, he’ll govern the country until new elections.
But no one knows if and when these elections might take place. And Mansour won’t be Egypt’s most important man, even if the justice, who served in the country’s top court under deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak, now calls himself head of state. That’s because behind the scenes, the military, led by General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, plans to continue running the show.
Since it took power in a coup in 1952, the military has remained the most important political player in Egypt. Neither Mubarak’s fall in 2011, nor the short rule by Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, have changed this. El-Sissi demonstrated just how powerful the influence of the military’s generals is on Wednesday night, when, after giving Morsi 48 hours to leave office, he summarily informed the president that he was no longer the leader of the country. No matter that Morsi was the country’s first democratically elected head of state.
Now Morsi and most of his aides are under house arrest. In addition, two leading politicians with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) have been arrested. According to the state newspaper Al-Ahram, another 300 members are wanted.
Morsi Failed to Weaken Military
The Muslim Brotherhood, the region’s most influential Islamist movement, has fallen into disfavor. In 2011 the army let Mubarak, who was one of their own, be deposed. This time they wanted to get rid of the disagreeable Morsi. It happened despite the fact that el-Sissi was at least nominally dependent on the president, who appointed him to lead the military in August 2012, after he fired the powerful Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. At the time, some feared the Muslim Brotherhood would form an alliance with the military.
El-Sissi is known to be devout, though he sees himself as a follower of the late, secular, authoritarian Gamal Abdel Nasser, the father of modern Egypt and a critic of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi had probably assumed that by making El-Sissi its leader, he had weakened the military. Apparently, he was wrong.
At 58, el-Sissi is the country’s youngest general. He has never fought in a war, and only knows about conflicts with Israel from the stories of others. He belongs to a generation that was invited to receive military training in the West. In 1992 he was in Britain, and in 2006, the United States.
He made international headlines in 2011 when he justified the degrading “virginity tests” conducted by soldiers on Egyptian women who had taken part in the revolution. But el-Sissi learned from the debacle of 2011, when the military itself formed the government after Mubarak was toppled. The military leadership was openly pulling the strings, which quickly made it subject to the scrutiny of the public.
Behind the Scenes
This time the head of the military has been trying from the outset to stay in the background. The events of Wednesday night are clearly a coup — the army has deposed a democratically elected president and suspended the constitution. Yet Sissi acted as if the generals had been compelled by the Egyptian people to intervene.
Indeed, many Egyptians have welcomed the coup. The military envisions a power-sharing setup where civilians will hold primary authority. That way, they will be the ones to draw the ire of the population as they slave away to solve the country’s disastrous economic situation and mend deep political divisions.
Behind the scenes, Sissi and his colleagues set the tone, especially in two areas: Security policy is traditionally their domain, but the government should also keep clear of the generals’ monetary privileges. The army is one of the most important economic power brokers in Egypt.
It remains to be seen whether this power-sharing structure will actually work. This is exactly what the military already tried in vain with the Muslim Brotherhood. But Morsi was rebellious. He began to interfere in security policy and didn’t take the sharp warnings of the generals seriously. From their perspective, things will work out better this time under the duo of military chief and top judiciary.
Staff of la Septieme Wilaya
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