Braving Washington’s warning of civil strife, Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is not backing away from his resolve to quickly crack down, even by military force, on armed protesters using live bullets on city streets and generating chaos, on Salafist terror in Sinai coupled with a Muslim Brotherhood uprising, and on their Palestinian Hamas collaborators in the Gaza Strip. This is reported by DEBKAfile’s sources in Cairo.
When the Obama administration warned Gen. El-Sisi that his actions could generate bloodshed leading to an outbreak of civil war, the Egyptian leader replied that military inaction was the more dangerous course, because terrorism and live fire in protest demonstrations must be controlled forthwith before they too degenerated into civil warfare.
After failing to win the Egyptian defense minister around to its view, Washington announced it was suspending the delivery to the Egyptian air force of four American F-16 fighter planes, as a mark of the administration’s displeasure with the military leader’s approach. He showed no signs of being put off his plans.
Wednesday, July 24, after a week of surging opposition violence and attacks on Egyptian military positions in Sinai, Gen. El-Sisi’s turned to the Egyptian people in a television speech: “I urge the people to take to the streets this coming Friday to prove their will and give me, the army and police a mandate to confront possible violence and terrorism.”
In the past week, DEBKAfile’s military sources report, tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood protesters continued to fill the streets of Egypt’s main cities, demonstrating against the interim government and the military and demanding the reinstatement of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. Some groups have begun closing off entire city blocks, declaring them independently-ruled entities. These enclaves have been fortified with sandbag barriers and sentries posted to check the documents of people going in and out. Entry is barred to those suspected of collaborating with the army and security forces.