State Dept. says it’s not involved in Egyptian military changes (WASHINGTON TIMES) By Guy Taylor 08/15/12)
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The State Department on Tuesday denied having played an inside role
in the appointment of Egypt’s new defense minister, a former military
intelligence chief who has long-standing ties to the U.S.
“It’s not our job to pick the leaders of a foreign government,” said
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, acknowledging that Lt.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is someone “we do know well, who we’ve
worked with in the past and who has had training in the United
In addition to having met with top Obama administration officials,
Lt. Gen. el-Sissi participated in a basic training course at Fort
Benning, Ga., during the early 1980s.
Mrs. Nuland refused to characterize his appointment as a positive
sign from the administration of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a
member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which now holds power in Cairo.
“I’m not planning to characterize it one way or another,” she
said. “We look forward and hope and expect that we will have good
working relations. That is what we would like to have.”
Mr. Morsi appointed Gen. el-Sissi over the weekend after ordering the
retirement of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, a powerful remnant from
the government of ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Despite intense public outcry calling for the military to allow
civilian leaders to take control in Cairo, Field Marshal Tantawi had
remained in charge of the Egyptian military since Mubarak was
overthrown in popular uprising.
Crowds of Egyptians gathered again in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday
to celebrate the firing of Field Marshal Tantawi by Mr. Morsi, who
also announced the retirement of several other senior military
officers as well as the canceling of several constitutional
amendments they had issued in an attempt to restrict civilian
It remains to be seen how the changes will affect the military’s
posture toward the public and neighboring countries.
The dismissal of the top officers came just days after the Egyptian
army declared a tentative victory against Islamic militants operating
in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The militants were accused of killing 16 Egyptian soldiers during an
ambush of anoutpost near the Israeli border. In an unprecedented
offensive last week, Egyptian fighter jets pounded militant positions
in the area.
On Monday, Mrs. Nuland told reporters at the State Department that
there are “security issues in Sinai that have to be dealt with.”
“As the Egyptians work to gain control of Sinai, the way they do it
obviously has an impact on their neighbors, has an impact on the
region, has an impact on their existing security and treaty
relationships, and we want to see all of those things go smoothly in
the coming period for Egypt, but also for the region and for the
neighbors,” she said. (© 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. 08/15/12)
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