On Sisi’s Address at Military Academies Ceremony

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During July 2019, there were several developments within the Egyptian military institution, most notably the graduation ceremony of a new batch of cadets of Egypt’s military academies and the Armed Forces Technical Institute at the Military Academy premises, Cairo, which was witnessed by General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Monday, July 22, 2019.

The most prominent part of the event was General Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s statement at the end of the ceremony, where he said he tried to express his fearlessness with regard to death. Al-Sisi’s comments came after a surprise decision by the United Kingdom (British Airways) and Germany (Lufthansa) to suspend flights to Cairo as a security precaution.

Sisi’s statement also came after reports had been circulated on arrests of military personnel, including officers, within the army. But regardless of the authenticity of these reports, any move against the military or political leadership from within the army is not excluded, especially that such moves had already taken place before.

Abdel Fattah El Sisi on Monday 22 July 2019 witnessed the graduation ceremony of a new batch of cadets of Egypt’s military academies and the Armed Forces Technical Institute at the Military Academy premises. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli, Armed Forces Commander in Chief, Minister of Defense and Military Production General Mohamed Zaki, all the leaders of the main branches of the Egyptian armed forces and a number of ministers and senior state officials and public figures attended the ceremony.

Sisi speech at the graduation ceremony of military colleges

It is noteworthy that former Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi, who rarely appeared on such events since his dismissal in June 2018, and former Minister of Defense Mohamed Hussein Tantawi were also attending the ceremony.

The ceremony witnessed the graduation of the 113rd. batch of the Military Academy, which was named after Field Marshal Abdel Halim Abu Ghazaleh, the 70th. Batch of the Naval Forces, which was named after Lt. General Mohamed Mahmoud Nashed, the 86rd. Batch of the Air Forces, which was named at Lt. General Mohamed Alaa Eddin Barakat, the 56th. Batch of Military Technician Academy, which was named after Field Marshal Fakhri Mohamed Ali Fahmi, and the 47th. Batch of Air Defense, which was named after Major General Mohammed Said Ali, and the 48th. Batch of the Military Technical Institute, which was named after Field Marshal Abdel Halim Abu Ghazaleh.

In his statement, Sisi expressed fearlessness towards death, saying: “Egyptians do not fear death that others fear, and they are ready to die at any time; and God willing, we will never be scared or bow to terrorism. The honest Egyptians are always ready to meet their Lord, because they defend their homeland with honor, dignity, humanity, conscience, creation and religion,” Al-Sisi said.

 Al Sisi’s comments came after a surprise decision by Britain and Germany to suspend all flights to Egypt, although it was reversed several days later. ““We constantly review our security arrangements at all our airports around the world and have suspended flights to Cairo for seven days as a precaution to allow for further assessment. The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our priority, and we would never operate an aircraft unless it was safe to do so,” the British Airways’ statement read.

It is worth mentioning that a source at the British Embassy in Cairo categorically denied that the decision to suspend British Airways flights to Egypt for a week was politically-oriented, confirming that the decision was made only as a security precaution.

Lufthansa also said in a statement: “As safety is the number one priority of Lufthansa, the airline temporarily suspended its flights to Cairo on July 20 as a precaution.”

Some reports and sources pointed out that before Sisi attended the graduation ceremony of new batches of Egyptian military academies, and also before the United Kingdom and Germany decided to halt their flights to Cairo, there was an arrest campaign among the army ranks, on the grounds that a group within the army were preparing for a certain move within the military institution that could threaten the current regime, according to the reports. However, sources confirmed that the regime uncovered the whole group and arrested its members.

Some said that the bullet-proof glass cage where Sisi sat during the ceremony came within new security measures that Sisi’s guard took after the arrests in the ranks of the Egyptian army. It should be noted that the bullet-proof glass was not used during the previous graduation ceremonies attended by Sisi.

In general and regardless of whether these reports were true or false, the military institution, like all institutions and bodies, has members who differ in their nature, spirit, principles and ideologies. Since 1952, there have been voices within the military trying to correct the path that the institution deviated from. There have always been attempts within the Egyptian army for conducting change from within, and perhaps Lt. General Saad al-Din al-Shazly and Field Marshal Abdel Ghani al-Gamasy, Field Marshal Abu Ghazaleh and Field Marshal Ahmad Badawi represented a clear example for this reality.

During the outbreak of the revolution of 25 January 2001, some officers participated in the events as a means of peaceful change both within the Egyptian army or at the level of the Egyptian State as a whole.

However, after the Sisi coup against the Egyptian revolution and its principles on 3 July 2013 and blocking all ways and means of bringing about a change in a peaceful, constitutional and legal manner, this situation may force those who are seeking change within the military to resort to more brutal methods to achieve the desired change.

Since Sisi’s coup, there have been many attempts to correct the course of the military institution; and perhaps the most prominent of these attempts was in 2015 and led to subjecting 26 officers to military trials for attempting a military coup against the regime.

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