Egypt: The Military Scene in January

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During January 2019, the Egyptian military Institution witnessed many developments, both internal and external, including:

Media reports in January talked about signs of disagreement between General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Abbas Kamel, the General Intelligence Service’s director, at the backdrop of the latter’s visit to Syria. Al-Sisi issued on 15 January a decree prohibiting senior state officials from travelling abroad without obtaining his permission. The decision included the sovereign ministries and supervisory, judicial and security agencies and stated that: “Permission for travel abroad on an official trip should be approved by the President of the Republic. This applies to the prime minister, deputy prime ministers, and ministers of defense, interior, foreign affairs and justice, as well as the heads of security agencies and their deputies.”

Two initial sentences to imprison LT. General Anan for 10 years only for attempting to run against Sisi in presidential election – pending the ratification of the Minister of Defense

Former Chief of Staff of the Egyptian army, Lt. General Sami Anan, was reportedly sentenced late January to ten years in prison for attempting to challenge al-Sisi in presidential elections last year. First, Anan received a 4-year imprisonment sentence on charges of filling the national ID form with wrong data (as he stated that he was a former Lt. General without mentioning that he was “summoned”). Second, Mr. Anan was sentenced to six years in prison by the military misdemeanors court for violating military discipline by announcing his intention to run for president and talking about the situation in the country. However, the two verdicts are pending the ratification of the Minister of Defense.

On the military institution’s external relations, January saw extensive media reports on the level of coordination between the Israeli Egyptian armies on military operations against IS- affiliated organization in Sinai. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi confirmed early January that Israel is helping Egyptian troops battle jihadists in the restive Sinai Peninsula. Sisi told CBS News that cooperation between Cairo and Jerusalem was tighter than it had ever been, in comments published late January.

On US arms supplies to the Egyptian army, the U.S. Department of Defense announced in January 2019 that the Tecmotiv Inc. was awarded a $19,6million Foreign Military Sales (Egypt) contract for M60 engine overhaul parts package. Work will be performed in Niagara Falls, New York, with an estimated completion date of Nov. 25, 2020. Some sources also revealed that the special forces of the Egyptian army are now using US Polaris Defense vehicles.

Militarization of the State

1- Army Control over Media:

An agreement was signed between the National Media Authority (formerly the Egyptian Radio and Television Union) and the Egyptian Media Group, owned by the Egyptian Intelligence, according to which the Egyptian Media Group would develop the state-owned television. Egypt’s General Intelligence Service has earned around five billion Egyptian pounds (about $2.9 billion) from a recent consulting deal signed between the government and the Egyptian Media Group.

Well-informed sources at the country’s official Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) – also known as Maspero – the deal was a “direct order by the Egyptian presidency in favor of the general intelligence service, which owns the Egyptian Media Group. Under the five-year agreement, the sources explained, Egyptian Media Group would implement plans to oversee 23 television stations and 76 radio stations, some of which would be merged and others which would be cancelled.

Egyptian Media Group is controlled by Eagle Capital, which is being run by the former investment minister Dalia Khorshid, who is married to the governor of Egypt’s Central Bank. In recent years, state authorities have been controlling and blocking the majority of the country’s satellite channels, advertising agencies, newspapers and social media sites, fearing another revolution over the continuous arrests and court charges against rights and political activists.

2- Army Control over Land:

Sisi awarded the Engineering Authority of the Egyptian Armed Forces all the powers of the Minister of Agriculture and the Agricultural Development and Reconstruction Authority to manage the agricultural reclamation projects in Egyptian governorates, which merge together to form the project called “One and a half million acres” that Sisi had announced would be completed by the end of his first term in office.

3- Army Control over Special Funds:

While the Egyptian military companies continue to control the country’s economy, they are moving towards controlling the special funds of governorates by collecting traffic fees on main roads and important axes, especially the ring road, the Cairo-Alex desert road and Upper Egypt main road, as well as the mini-bus parking sites and inter-governorates transportation between the governorates, adding to the army income billions of pounds under the pretext of development. After imposing control on the main roads, adding traffic charges proceeds to the army budget away from the State budget, the National Company for Roads and Bridges, owned by the army, has set up new parking sites for transport both inside Greater Cairo and between the capital and governorates (27), and has already started to collect entry and exit fees from drivers in addition to road fees, which had previously been under the control of governors.

Military Institution’s Economy

1- Dr. Manal Mikheil, Governor of Damietta, signed a protocol of tripartite cooperation with Major General Ali Ashmawi, Commander of the Northern Military Region, and Dr. Nevine Jameh, Head of the Project Development Authority, for the preparation and equipping of the units of Bashaer Al-Khair Project 3 and 5 in Al-Kabbari area in Alexandria.

2- Minister of Military Production Maj. General Mohamed Al-Assar’s statement that military factories have started to produce special water faucets to counter the scarcity of water resources, aroused a wave of irony about shifting the ministry‘s mission from military production into engagement in other less important industries, at a time when the regime is expanding the purchase of weapons from abroad. Al-Assar had announced in a TV interview that his ministry works to solve the Egyptian problems introducing innovative solutions, and revealed the new project of producing water-preserving faucets. The faucets are locally produced by the Ministry of Military Production in cooperation with the Ministry of Irrigation through a joint committee of the three ministries. Maj. General Al-Assar said the faucets were produced in a subsidiary company to the ministry utilizing German technology and conserving 35% of the water used.

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