Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
An Egyptian man passes by burnt out cars near Cairo University where supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohammed Morsi are holding an open sit in.
An Egyptian man passes by burnt out cars near Cairo University where supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohammed Morsi are holding an open sit in.

Egypt army chief El Sisi urges mass street protests

Military chief calls for mass street demonstrations tomorrow 'to give me the mandate in order that I confront violence and potential terrorism', as Obama delays delivery of F-16 fighter jets. Bradley Hope reports from Cairo

CAIRO // Egypt's military chief yesterday called for mass street demonstrations tomorrow "to give me the mandate in order that I confront violence and potential terrorism".

The defence minister and deputy prime minister Gen Abdul Fattah El Sisi urged Egyptians: "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."

His rallying call is part of a growing campaign by the military to undermine Islamist supporters of the former president Mohammed Morsi.

The military's psychological operations unit has released video footage of pro-Morsi protesters firing live ammunition at police and army officers, and alleged that some were killing each other to tarnish the military's reputation.

There was a setback for the interim government yesterday when Barack Obama delayed the planned sale to Egypt of four F-16 fighter jets. The Pentagon said the US president's decision applied only to the F-16s, and the broader question of Washington's US$1.3 billion (Dh4.7bn) in annual military assistance had not been settled.

Gen El Sisi's call for demonstrations followed a day in which 12 people died in clashes between Morsi supporters and groups who want to restart the democratic process.

One person died and 17 were injured in a bomb blast on Tuesday next to a police station in the Nile delta city of Mansoura. Many of the injured were police officers.

A pro-Morsi group of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters denied any connection to the attack, and said they were being framed.

They alleged an "apparent plan by security and intelligence agencies to plot violent attacks to terrorise citizens". The group said the agencies were attempting to falsely link the attacks to "peaceful protesters who announced more than once that their power lies in their peacefulness".

The fresh clashes, bombing in Mansour and instability in Sinai have fuelled claims by anti-Morsi groups that the former president's supporters are engaging in terrorism to tip the country into chaos.

Despite Brotherhood officials' claims that they do not seek violent confrontation with their political opponents, pro-Morsi protesters marched on Tuesday to Tahrir Square where anti-Morsi protesters are camped out, in what many saw as a highly confrontational move. In the inevitable clashes, nine people were killed.

Col Ahmed Ali, the military spokesman, said last week he believed the pro-Morsi protesters were exaggerating the number of people who died in an early morning clash with police and army officers last week. Mr Morsi's supporters said more than 50 people, including women and children, were killed by the military shortly after morning prayer. But Mr Ali blamed militants within the Brotherhood for starting the battle.

The former president's supporters have found little international support in their cause to have Mr Morsi reinstated. The US, Germany and the European Union have called only for him to be released from detention, where he has been since he was deposed.

Qatar, which supported the Brotherhood's rise to power last year, yesterday expressed concern at the increasing civilian death toll.

"A responsible source at the Qatari expressed his concern over the development of events in sisterly Arab Republic of Egypt, especially after the increasing number of civilian victims," the Qatari state news agency QNA reported.

The foreign ministry said dialogue was not possible in Egypt so long as Mr Morsi was held against his will.

Adly Mansour, the former head of the Supreme Constitutional Court who was appointed interim president by Gen El Sisi, has called for the Muslim Brotherhood to join a national reconciliation initiative, which was set to convene yesterday, but the group has refused. Many of the Brotherhood's top officials have been jailed, some without charges, since July 3.

Reflecting the deepening tensions in Egypt, Mr Mansour's rhetoric has become more forceful in recent days. Soon after his appointment, he promised the Brotherhood positions in the new government. But when they refused and held protests, he answered with a declaration that the new government would "fight a battle for security until the end".

Many now fear that tomorrow's protests could end in bloodshed. After Gen El Sisi's call for Egyptians to support his decision to remove Mr Morsi from power, the Brotherhood pledged to hold their own large-scale demonstrations.

"Your threat will not prevent millions to rally against coup," Essam El Erian, a senior Brotherhood official, told Gen El Sisi. "You have been always in your office conspiring."


twitter: For breaking news from the Gulf, the Middle East and around the globe follow The National World. Follow us

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National