Morsi´s anti-terror ploy to root out pro-US influence in Cairo, cut Israel from Sinai (DEBKAfile) Exclusive Report 08/10/12 2:38 PM (GMT+02:00)
Israel willingly acceded to Cairo’s request for permission to deploy
fighter planes and armored troop carriers in Sinai, which was ruled a
demilitarized buffer zone under their 1979 peace treaty. It shared an
interest in President Mohamed Morsi’s counter-terror offensive
against lawless Islamist bands.
But when sensational reports started coming in from Cairo about non-
existent Egyptian victories in which an improbable “60 gunmen
killed,” they realized the “offensive” was largely bogus.
According to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources, Washington and
Jerusalem strongly suspect that they should be worried about what the
Muslim Brotherhood president is really up, especially after the sweep
he conducted Wednesday, Aug. 8 of pro-Western military officers and
1. Until then, President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s
leadership were deemed two separate and competing power bases in
Cairo, with the president ready to defy the Brotherhood by leaning on
the supreme military council for support.
This perception broke down in the aftermath of the terrorist raid of
Aug. 5 in which 17 Egyptian troops were murdered at their Mansoura
base in northern Sinai. By his subsequent actions, Morsi put paid to
the impression, which was supported by many high-ranking members of
Israel’s security community, that the Egyptian president of two
months had chosen an independent path and was ready to break ranks
with the Brotherhood.
2. Wednesday, Aug. 8, with considerable fanfare, Morsi sacked key
military officials in an apparent purge of those responsible for the
Chief of intelligence Gen. Mourad Mowafi was sent into retirement and
Maj. Gen. Mohamed Shahata given an interim appointment in his stead.
The same bulletin announced that the head of the Supreme Military
Council and defense minister, Field Marshal Tantawi, had fired the
head of the military police, Maj. Gen. Hamdy Badeen.
Our sources disclose that Tantawi had no part in this or any other
military dismissals, although they were his prerogative. Morsi quite
simply seized the moment to appropriate the top military command’s
authority for the first time by taking upon himself the firing and
hiring of military officers.
The president furthermore sacked the head of the Republican Guard,
the division responsible for safeguarding the president and members
of his regime and replaced him with an officer loyal to the Muslim
Brotherhood, Maj. Gen. Hamed Zaky.
Morsi’s highhanded actions, especially in the case of Gen. Mowafi,
are seen in Washington and Jerusalem as the first steps in the
Brotherhood’s takeover of the Egyptian army.
3. Mowafi had to go because he stood in the way of Muslim
Brotherhood objectives. It was he who raised the alarm for months
about an impending terrorist attack on the Egyptian-Gaza-Israel
border junction and urged the deployment of attack helicopters for
preemptive missile attacks on their networks.
Instead of being commended, our sources report he was fired for two
reasons: For what the MB thought of as his pro-western and pro-
Israeli orientation; and for his efforts to broker a compromise deal
for unifying the two Palestinian wings, the Hamas rulers of the Gaza
Strip and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
However, this not what the Brotherhood wants. Rather than Palestinian
unity and compromise, the MB seeks a Hamas takeover of the Ramallah-
based Fatah wing headed by Mahmoud Abbas.
Gen. Mowafi stood in the way of this goal.
At the same time, the new man, Gen. Shahata, had to be satisfied with
an interim appointment as head of intelligence. The MB does not trust
him to be loyal and regards him as pro-Western – albeit less well-
connected than Mowafi. They will use him as a stopgap until they find
an intelligence chief who understands where his allegiance belongs -
and then drop him too.
In the “counter-terror offensive” charade, the MB assigned Hamas in
Gaza a key role. According to the script, Cairo would give Hamas
an ‘ultimatum” to surrender the Al Qaeda-linked Army of Islam
operatives alleged to have carried out the raid on the Egyptian base.
The Muslim Brotherhood regime in Cairo would then be able to close
the books on the episode and avoid even the semblance of an offensive
against Salafi terrorist networks in Sinai.
Israel’s diplomatic-security cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Friday,
Aug. 10, freely approved the transfer of assault helicopters to
Sinai “for a few days”- although it didn’t take a counter-terror
expert to realize that there is no way a couple of helicopters could
wipe out hidden terrorist networks in just days. But the ministers
decided on advice from Washington to go along for now with the show
Morsi and the Muslim Brothers were putting on, so as not to look
obstructive. (Copyright 2000-2012 DEBKAfile. 08/10/12)
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