A country in chaos – Egypt teetering on the brink of civil war. A prevailing mood of defiance as the two opposing factions dig in. The human cost escalates with 750 dead in the space of four days. The repression by the army of the pro-Mursi supporters appears relentless, tactics employed it is claimed in the name of stability and the will of the Egyptian people.
Thus Egypt armed forces chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, an army general who has never fought in combat justifies the actions of his troops. Are his speeches, coloured with the tone of a man who would serve the greater good of the Egyptian people, from the heart?
“The will of the Egyptian people is free, their will is free, they can choose whoever they want to rule them, and we are the guardians of this will. I want to tell you that the honour of protecting the will of the people is more valuable to us and to me personally than the honour of ruling Egypt. I swear to God on this,” he stressed in one speech.
They are words which have a deep resonance on the streets among people who are not calling for the reinstatement of Mohammed Mursi. There is a belief Sisi will bring calm and unite their country as this man explained.
“We are with Sisi, heart and soul, and with anyone who will achieve reconciliation for Egypt. We support every helping hand in this,” he opined.
But what is the endgame of the soldier who was appointed as general commander of the country’s armed forces and defence minister by the then President Mursi just one year ago. Respect for the will of the people or the ultimate authority in Egypt?
The general announced on state television that Mursi “did not meet the demands of the masses” and denounced violence following the nationwide protests which led to the removal of the then president.
But violence has begat violence and in this maelstrom which is endemic in the country can one person restore order and is al-Sisi the man to do it, to lead and defend Egypt? Has he employed the age old strategy of divide and rule? “The people and the army are one hand” is a regular chant at rallies to support him.
One action remains a stigma for him and the military. Seventeen women were detained in Tahrir Square in March and amidst other actions subjected to virginity tests. Sisi is quoted as saying the action was to protect the women from rape and the soldiers from accusations of the crime.