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.
Large photos of Morsi are draped over buildings along with banners of injunctions to obey no authority other than that of the elected president.
The generals fear that these “independent closed enclaves” could become the nuclei of a full-scale revolt which if not curbed in time could run out of control.
They are increasingly concerned by the spreading use of firearms by Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators against their opponents in Cairo, Alexandria, Mansoura, Port Said and Ismailia.
An outright terrorist incident seen as an ill omen of Iraq-style tactics to come occurred in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura, 45 kilometers north of Cairo, Wednesday, when a bomb tossed from a passing car killed one person and injured seventeen. The Egyptian general staff believes that terrorist tactics may be filtering into the cities from Sinai.
debkafile's sources say that El-Sisi's call for a mass demonstration of government supporters on Friday portends their first large-scale clash with Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators who will no doubt turn out in force. The army and police would intervene only after the confrontation begins. This tactic carries a high risk of becoming the match which ignite civil war in Egypt.
In Sinai, the Muslim Brotherhood is activating the machinery for an armed uprising in collusion with Salafits linked to al Qaeda and the Palestinian Hamas by means of escalating attacks on Egyptian military and security targets.
In a meeting on Thursday July 25 at the Egyptian General Staff headquarters, Gen. Ahmed Wasfi, commander of the Second Army, and Gen. Osama Askar, commander of the Third Army, who are leading counter-terror operations in Sinai and against the Gaza Strip, reported that they expect to report the success of their campaign by the middle of next week.
debkafile's military sources cannot confirm that the Egyptian military campaign has made any advances in the field.