Egypt's Army Chief Sounds an Ominous Note
After the so-called Arab Spring, Egypt has slid more and more into Islamism. In their first free election after the fall of Mubarak, Egypt elected the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi to the presidency and gave the Brotherhood a majority in the legislature. Persecution of Christians is on the rise in Egypt now, and Islamist rule has begun to turn Cairo into a dystopia.
Hopes that the Egyptian armed forces would serve as a check on the Brotherhood initially faded: The army had actually struck a deal with the Islamists during the transition of power. But Egypt's army may be getting ready to act, at least if its chief's latest comments are to be taken as read.
Egypt's army chief warned on Sunday that the military is ready to intervene to stop the nation from entering a "dark tunnel" of internal conflict.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi spoke a week ahead of mass protests planned by opponents of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. There are fears the demonstrations calling for Morsi's ouster will descend into violence after some of the president's hard-line supporters vowed to "smash" them. Others declared protesters were infidels who deserve to be killed.
El-Sissi's comments were his first in public on the planned June 30 protests. Made to officers during a seminar, they reflected the military's frustration with the rule of Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president who completes one year in office on June 30.
"Those who think that we (the military) are oblivious to the dangers that threaten the Egyptian state are mistaken. We will not remain silent while the country slips into a conflict that will be hard to control," he said.
In a thinly veiled warning to Morsi's hard-line backers, el-Sissi said: "It is not honorable that we remain silent in the face of the terrorizing and scaring of our Egyptian compatriots. There is more honor in death than watching a single Egyptian harmed while his army is standing idly by."
El-Sissi also warned that the military will no longer tolerate any "insults" to the armed forces and its leaders, a reference to a series of comments by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi hails, that were perceived by the military as insults.