Udo von Massenbach
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 2, 2013, 9:36 AM (IDT)
Egypt’s Defense Minister and coup leader Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will run for president – possibly before the end of the year, debkafile’s Exclusive sources report. He is deep in preparations for launching his election campaign Thursday August 15 and plans to keep it short. Untroubled by criticism from the United States and Europe, he plans to restore the Egyptian army to political center stage in Cairo and keep the democratic process under control. Like former presidents Gemal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, the defense minister will repress the Muslim Brotherhood he unseated on July 3 before cutting a deal with its leaders to permit them a restricted measure of political activity.
Tuesday July 30, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel phoned Gen. El-Sisi and, according to the official statement issued in Washington, talked about this week’s visit to Cairo by European Union Foreign Policy Coordinator Catherine Ashton and her two-hour conversation with deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
This dry communiqué omitted to reflect the attempts by Hagel and Ashton to twist the Egyptian general’s arm intor releasing Morsi from detention and re-integrating the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’s national politics.
Hagel specifically pressed him to bring Muslim Brotherhood members into the interim government and give them free rein to run candidates for parliament in early 2014.
El-Sisi told Hagel and Ashton that it was up to the Muslim Brotherhood to subscribe to his roadmap for the caretaker administration which is ruling the country until elections are held. He then floored the US defense secretary by announcing he was launching a lightning campaign for his own run for the presidency in an early election. German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, who arrived in Cairo Thursday, was also taken aback.
Wednesday, the US Senate voted 86-13 in favor of a motion to block a bill calling for the suspension of US military aid to Egypt. This bill was tabled by the Obama administration to signal its displeasure with and objections to the military coup.
Nonetheless, President Obama has chosen to send to Cairo some time in August, two senior Republican Senators, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, to try and smooth over the rough passage between Cairo and Washington.
The administration can’t do much with Gen. El-Sisi. He addresses Washington and European officials with courtesy but then goes off and does the exact opposite of what they ask of him.
His actions present Washington and its European allies with unpalatable facts:
1. The defense minister is determined to restore the Egyptian army to center stage of Egypt’s political scene – as in the days of his predecessors.
2. Egypt is reverting to the Mubarak era when the army decided who would be president.
3. The democratic process in Egypt will be controlled and overseen by the army.
4. Again like all former presidents Gemal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, El-Sisi is bent on repressing the Muslim Brotherhood which he unseated last month until he can cut a deal with its leaders permitting them to be politically active within pre-set confines. The Brothers will be allowed to seat a small number of representatives in parliament.
5. Should the Americans or Europeans punish the military strongman by halting or cutting back on economic and military aid to Egypt, he is confident that Saudi Arabia and some oil emirates will make up the shortfall.
debkafile’s Washington sources report that the administration responded Thursday by naming Robert Ford, US ambassador to Syria, as the new envoy to Cairo. Ford made a name for his unconventional methods and for reaching groups opposed to the Assad regime at the outset of the Syrian uprising.
Our sources report that while the West is focusing on restoring the Muslim Brotherhood to the political center, the defense minister is wholly wrapped up in his drive for two goals: Breaking up the constant pro-Morsi Brotherhood sit-in in central Cairo, even by military force if need be; and getting his election campaign underway. He has hired Khalaf al-Adawi, a relatively unknown politician, as national campaign manager and a slogan is in the works: It will call on the general to run for president and “Finish his good work!”
His campaign managers have been set the goal of collecting 30 million signatures for his candidacy. That way, he can run on the ticket of the people’s candidate – not the army’s.