Egyptian army officers in touch with dissident Ali

YUSUF SELMAN İNANÇ @yusufsinanc
ISTANBUL
Published 28.09.2019 00:00

Egypt has been witnessing infrequent but large mass protests for a week. Thousands of demonstrators are on the streets, calling for the removal of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

A businessman named Mohammad Ali, who has been residing in Spain, played a key role in sparking the protests. Now, he claims that some Egyptian army officers are in touch with him. In Cairo and Alexandria, thousands of people carried out loosely organized demonstrations against el-Sissi. The demonstrations came after Ali posted several videos on YouTube, claiming that he witnessed misuse of public funds due to the luxurious spending of el-Sissi and officials close to him.

Ali even alleged that el-Sissi spent public funds on building a tomb for his mother, who died in 2014. In a new video, published Wednesday evening, Ali made another call to the Egyptian people to carry out bigger demonstrations on Friday after the Friday sermons throughout the country. He claimed that security forces would not "confront Egyptian people" if the numbers are large enough. Furthermore, he said in the video that some Egyptian army officials were getting in touch with him, but these officials were facing pressure from higher officials, who would like to preserve their own interests.

El-Sissi has long been claiming that the country was under threat of "Islamic terrorism." Labeling the Muslim Brotherhood, which was one of the country's biggest social organizations, as a terrorist organization after the bloody military coup, which happened under his leadership and ousted Mohammad Morsi, the country's first freely elected president, el-Sissi has terrorized the people with alleged threats. Ali, in his latest video, said this was "a scarecrow to keep on receiving Western support" and added that el-Sissi was "trading this commodity to the West and Egyptians." During his latest meeting with the U.S. President Donald Trump last week at the United Nations, el-Sissi mentioned the term "political Islam" and claimed the region was under threat. However, Ali asked the question of whether he "spends the billions dedicated to fighting terrorism on the military or on building palaces and rest houses." In response to Ali's claims, el-Sissi said on his official Facebook page that: "This is an image being painted as was done before, comprised of lies and defamation, and some media working to present an image that isn't true. We're really strong, the country is really strong with you."

In Ali's video, it was not clear which army officials were in touch with him and what their positions or approaches to the incidents were. However, it is a historical fact that the army has played a key role in Egyptian politics. During the ouster of autocratic ex-President Hosni Mubarak, in 2011, the army's neutral stance on the protesters accelerated the revolution. Similarly, in 2013 el-Sissi ousted Morsi when he was the chief of the army.

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