The holy Muslim month of Ramadan beginning in the Middle East Tuesday, July 9, heralds more, rather than less, bloodshed. After at least 51 deaths in a Cairo shootout Monday, Egypt’s military chief Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi rebuffed US diplomatic efforts to bring the various political forces in the country around the table for dialogue. The high military council is divided on this: One faction urges a relentless crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its deposed president; a second, led by Gen. El-Sisi, says they mustn’t be cowed by the backlash to Monday’s incident, but should keep the political process for a new and stable government on track.
In line with this perception, Provisional President Justice Adli Mansour issued a decree Tuesday for elections to a new parliament in February 2014, followed immediately by voting for a new president. He did not fix a precise date. No one expects this decree to tranquilize the turmoil in the country or deter the Brothers from an uprising (intifada) declared against the powers that unseated them after Egyptian soldiers shot dead at least 51 of their supporters. They were accused by the army of trying to storm the Republican Guards Club in Cairo where deposed president Mohamed Morsi is held. The Brothers claimed they were just holding a peaceful sit-in.
The generals have geared up to meet this threat, which appears to have been kicked off Monday with attacks on strategic targets across Egypt – carried out, according to DEBKAfile’s military sources, by the Brotherhood’s armed underground, Al-Gihas al-Sirri.
In parallel, the military is also deploying for a major offensive to curb the armed Salafi Bedouin rampant in Sinai and now harnessed to the Brotherhoods uprising. The generals believe this center of revolt must be nipped in the bud without delay for the sake of confining the MB uprising to mainland Egypt.