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Putin backs Sisi to be president of Egypt – Europe – Al Jazeera English

Putin backs Sisi to be president of Egypt – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

Sisi’s Russia visit is seen as a move to reduce Egypt’s reliance on the US [EPA]
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would support a presidential bid from Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, wishing him luck after holding talks in Moscow.”I know that you, Mr defence minister, have decided to run for president  of Egypt,” Putin said, according to Russian news reports.

“It’s a very responsible decision… I wish you luck  both from myself personally and from the Russian people.”

Sisi, who is widely expected to run for Egypt’s top job, has not yet officially declared his candidacy and there was no announcement from the Egyptian government.

We believe your efforts to establish stability in the country are being effective.Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu

Sis and Nabil Fahmy, Egypt’s foreign minister, also held separate talks with Sergei Shoigu and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian defence and foreign ministers.

“We are closely watching the situation in your country. We are interested in Egypt being a strong and stable country,” Shoigu said in his opening remarks at the meeting with Sisi, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

“In the current situation, it is good to adopt a new Egyptian Constitution in a national referendum … We believe your efforts to establish stability in the country are being effective.”

Shoigu also said Moscow supported Cairo’s efforts to “fight against terrorism”.

“In this regard, we will discuss in some important issues of military and military-technical cooperation, the terms of that and future prospects… We are interested in the development of such cooperation. Cooperation between our countries has deep historical roots,” he said.

Arms deal speculation

Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan, reporting from Moscow, said that well-informed sources have said a major weapons deal will be signed during the trip.

Russian and Egyptian media carried reports of a $2bn Gulf-funded arms agreement in the making between the countries. The reports said the deal is to be funded mainly by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

If signed, it will underscore the Gulf states’ support for Egypt’s military-backed government.

The visit is also seen as a move to reduce Egypt’s reliance on the United States after relations cooled following the coup against former president Mohamed Morsi and Cairo’s harsh response to protests that followed it.

According to Brennan, Egyptian authorities have said they are not seeking to move away from their relationship with the US, but are instead working to diversify and add to their list of international allies.

Civilian clothes

Sisi made a rare appearance in civilian clothes on his way to Moscow, fuelling speculation he was trying to appear more presidential before announcing a bid for top office. The country’s top military body  recently endorsed his candidacy .

He has become hugely popular among a large segment of Egyptians who see him as the nation’s saviour for ending the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, who many accused of dominating power under Morsi.

Still, a deadly security crackdown on supporters that has left hundreds dead and a subsequent campaign of intimidation and arrests of secular-leaning critics have raised concerns about Sisi’s tolerance for dissent.

The government says it is in a war against terrorism, citing a wave of bombings and suicide attacks that have targeted police and the military, leaving scores dead and wounded.

Egypt army chief seeks immunity for military – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Egypt army chief seeks immunity for military – Middle East – Al Jazeera English. (source/link)

VIDEO

Egypt’s Defence Minister has said that the military should enjoy immunity under the new constitution, according to two leaked audios broadcast on Friday by Rasd Network.

General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi made the comments in an interview that was recorded few weeks ago, but was never made public.

“You need this military institution to be given immunity, it is not an immunity for Abdel Fatah (referring to himself) …. It is for the (military) institution, which is the backbone of the state in light of the current circumstances. The constitution should consider that during this transitional period,” Sisi said in the audio that is now in the possession of Al Jazeera.

The military deposed Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, on July 3 and suspended the constitution.

In the second audio, Sisi is heard saying, ”The (military) institution should have immunity because it has a role… that will be extended for at least 15 years during the coming period, be not withstanding who is going to be in power, whether he belongs to the Islamist, liberal or secular trend.”

“For someone to come and control this (military) institution completely, he could destroy it without noticing and without any intention,” Sisi said in the audio interview that Rasd says was given to Editor-in-Chief of independent daily newspaper, Al-Masry al-Youm.

Army calls shots

The military installed a technocrat government immediately after Morsi’s removal amid widespread public approval, but the interim government has played second fiddle to the army.

The 50-member constitution-writing committee, which has no representation from the Muslim Brotherhood that dominated the previous parliament, is still debating the military’s powers.

“This audio proves that the main conflict now is between the old authoritarian regime that has ruled the country since the 1952 military coup and the establishment of a new, democratic, civilian state,” Adel Soleiman, a former military general and head of the Cairo-based Strategic Dialogue Forum for Defence Studies, told Aljazeera.

The military leaders are telling the people that the regime will not fall, you can bring down one president or 100…but the regime will not change

Adel Soleiman, Former military general

“Egypt’s military is the old regime,” he said.

During the January 25 revolt that toppled military President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the people called for the ”fall of the regime”.

”The military leaders are telling the people that the regime will not fall, you can bring down one president or 100…but the regime will not change,” Soleiman said.

He said that this indicated that anyone – despite his affiliations – who tries to change the political regime will fail, because ”the military will be untouchable, according to the new constitution”.

Military representatives of the committee have called for the constitution to allow the military to name the defence minister during the next two presidential terms.

This point had been widely criticised by legal experts and politicians who say this would give the military power above the president.

According to Egypt’s 2012 and 1971 constitutions, the president is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and he is the one who appoints the Defence Minister.

The constitution-writing committee is also discussing whether or not to keep an article, allowing the military trials of civilians that directly assault the armed forces.

No to military trials

Several rights and campaign groups such as ”no to military trials of civilians campaign” have condemned the article – which violates the rights of civilians in a fair trial in front of a civilian court – and demanded that it be removed completely.

There is also fear that the military forces will have immunity against prosecution for the crimes they committed against the people during the 2011 uprising and after Morsi’s removal.

More than 1,000 civilians have been killed during clashes with the military and police forces since July 3.

The draft constitution also has articles guaranteeing the secrecy of the military budget.

“I believe that their inability to estimate the reaction of the military institution and its size is what made them take the last decision (against) the Supreme Council of armed forces,” Sisi said in the audio.

Sisi was referring to Morsi’s decision in August last year to dismiss the Supreme Council of Armed Forces that ruled the country after Mubarak’s ouster and annul their constitutional declaration that curbed the president’s powers.

”Sisi’s words indicate that Morsi’s problem was that he tried to change the regime and build a new one.” Soleiman said.

Meanwhile, Yasser Risk, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Masry al-Youm, has denied that these leaks were authentic in several statements to local channels.

”The defence minister did not say any of this,” he said, adding that the authentic audio might have been leaked from the newspaper then edited, re-arranged and fabricated before they were released.

Last month, Rasd also leaked videos of Sisi’s meeting with military commanders including a video where Sisi spoke about how to control the media.

 

Egypt: Another era of military rule? – Inside Story – Al Jazeera English

Egypt: Another era of military rule? – Inside Story – Al Jazeera English. (FULL ARTICLE)

A leaked video appears to show Egypt’s military generals deciding how to control the country’s media.

All we have been hearing since the overthrow of Morsi is that Egypt is on the path to democracy …. Well, controlling the media is not democratic …. The problem is that the army is able to get away with this because a large part of [the] Egyptian public is cheering on the crackdown on [the] media ….

Sharif Nashashibi, a Middle East political analyst

The footage was released by activists, and shows General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s army chief, addressing senior officers in the months before President Mohamed Morsi was ousted.

The recording starts with an officer urging el-Sisi to find a way of frightening journalists into not criticising the army. “We must re-establish red lines for the media. We need to find a new way of neutralising them; the media in Egypt is controlled by 20 or 25 people. We should engage with these people directly and individually – either terrorise them or win them over,” the officer is heard saying.

For his part, el-Sisi is heard saying: “I know how to win them over, but tell me how you suggest I terrorise them? … It takes a long time before you are able to affect and control the media. We are working on this.”

In another leaked broadcast, el-Sisi is heard lobbying journalists and intellectuals, arguing that he should be granted immunity from prosecution should he fail to become president: “You together with the educated elite are supposed to lead a campaign calling for an article included in the constitution granting immunity to General Sisi by virtue of his office as a defence minister allowing him to re-assume his duties in case he is not elected as a president.” …

 

Video shows Egypt generals plotting media gag – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Video shows Egypt generals plotting media gag – Middle East – Al Jazeera English. (FULL ARTICLE)

A new video has emerged which appears to show Egypt’s military generals deciding how to deal with the country’s media.

The footage, released by activists on Wednesday, shows army chief General Abdel Fatah el-Sisi addressing senior officers of the army in the months before Mohamed Morsi was ousted from power.

Once a minister of defence in Morsi’s government, Sisi played a leading role in the July 2013 military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president.

The new recording starts with an officer urging Sisi to find a way to frighten journalists from criticising the army.

“It takes a long time before you’re able to affect and control the media. We are working on this and we are achieving more positive results but we are yet to achieve what we want.”Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s army chief

“We must re-establish red lines for the media. We need to find a new way of neutralising them, the media in Egypt is controlled by 20 or 25 people,” the officer is heard saying in the footage.

“We should engage with these people directly and individually either terrorise them or win them over,“ he adds.

Sisi then interrupts the officer and says: “I know how to win them over, but tell me how do you suggest I terrorise them?”…

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