Army’s latest statement a warning against mass protests, says analyst

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By Heba Fahmy

CAIRO: “The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued its last statement to warn the people against holding mass protests on May 27,” analyst Nabil Abdel Fattah, a researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies told Daily News Egypt on Monday.

“The vagueness in the army’s last statement increases the skepticism and lack of trust between the army and the people,” he said.

The SCAF’s 56th message posted on its Facebook page Sunday accused “suspicious foreign elements who claim to be patriots,” of making false statements to incite divisions between the army and the people.

SCAF denied such accusations, which it said were disseminated through websites that work against the country’s best interests.

Such “foreign elements” use outlaws to infiltrate free protests and provoke confrontations with army and police forces, the statement said, adding that Egypt welcomes the contributions of all honorable political powers that want to express their opinion freely and through democratic means.

The army addressed the free youth of Egypt saying that the main objective of these “elements” is to weaken the military institution which is “the linchpin of Egypt’s safety and security in this important phase in the history of our beloved Egypt.”

The SCAF statement warned the youth against “these destructive elements,” whose only aim is to weaken Egypt and its stability to achieve their twisted objectives.

Many activists called for demonstrations on Friday May 27 under the slogan “The Second Egyptian Rage Revolution” claiming that the people’s demands have not been met by the army.

Abdel Fattah said that the people want to return the legitimacy back to Tahrir Square, which succeeded in getting rid of ousted president Hosni Mubarak on Feb 11.

Rashad Bayoumi, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Karima El-Hifnawy, senior member of Kefaya and the National Association for Change, believed that the foreign elements referred to in the SCAF statement are Israel and the United States.

They said that the remnants of the former regime were cooperating with these foreign elements to preserve the essence of Mubarak’s regime which long served the agenda of Israel and the US in the region.

“Detained former regime members shouldn’t be held together in Tora prison and given the opportunity to plot against our revolution,” Bayoumi told DNE, referring to Mubarak’s sons, former presidential chief of staff Zakaria Azmy and other prominent figures of the former regime.

“SCAF needs to speed up the prosecution of former members of the regime and remove the heads of the local councils who were assigned by them and are still working against the revolution,” El-Hifnawy said.

She added that some Gulf countries also wanted the revolution to fail in order to protect their autocratic systems and preserve their interests in the region.

Commenting on the SCAF’s statement, Mohamed Abbas, a member of the Youth Coalition and the Muslim Brotherhood, said that the army must learn to accept criticism like any other governing body.

“By accusing anyone who criticizes it of being a spy or a foreign element with a suspicious agenda makes them worst than Mubarak’s regime,” he said.

El-Hifnawy, Bayoumi and the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution have yet to decide whether to participate in a mass protest planned for May 27.

El-Hifnawy said she was against calls for a “second revolution” and an open sit-in in Tahrir Square saying that “we still haven’t finished our first revolution or executed all our demands.”

“I agree with a million man march on Friday to reiterate demands, but not hold an open sit-in,” she said.

Torture whistleblower and former police officer Omar Afifi — now in self-exile in the US — who helped call for mass protests on Jan. 25, posted a video on YouTube on May 20 calling on Egyptians to start a second revolution on May 27 if the SCAF fails to meet his demands.

There is wide speculation that the army was specifically referring to Afifi in its latest statement.

Afifi called on SCAF to secure his return to Egypt from the US and vowed to repatriate $30 billion in money smuggled out of the country by members of the former regime within 10 days if he is allowed to head the investigations.

He added that half of the money would be distributed on the poor people of Egypt, vowing to accept being locked up for five years in prison if he fails to deliver his promises.

He then said that he would accuse the army council of squandering the poor people’s money and prolonging Mubarak’s investigations and those of other corrupt figures, if his demands were not met.

“There’s no such thing as detention in a 7-star hospital,” he said referring to Mubarak, who has been detained in a hospital in Sharm El-Sheikh for over a month and a half.

He said that SCAF Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi should testify that Mubarak ordered him to open fire on peaceful protesters.
Afifi then embarked on a tirade of accusations against the SCAF, including their responsibility for the recent sectarian clashes and coordinating with Israel to attack Egyptian borders and possibly take over parts of Sinai on May 20.

“Egypt’s security and safety are a red line,” Afifi warned Tantawi.




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