Cairo (AsiaNews) - "The army is looking for popular support. I think that tomorrow Egyptians from different political backgrounds will manifest together for a free and non-violent country," Mina Magdy told AsiaNews. "Before General Al-Sisi's appeal, people were very angry because of the violence perpetrated by Islamists and the Armed Forces' failure to contain them," added the young man who is a leader in the Maspero Youth Union, a Muslim-Christian human rights association that is among the backers of the Tamarod (rebel) movement.
Dressed in full uniform and in an address that enhanced his status as Egypt's strongman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence General al-Sisi said that "every honourable and honest Egyptian must come out" to "give me the mandate and order that I confront violence and potential terrorism." Referring to the mass rallies that led to Morsi's overthrow three weeks ago, he said, "I am asking the Egyptian people to go out like they did on June 30 and July 3".
Arrest warrants were issued on Wednesday for nine Muslim Brotherhood officials, including one of Morsi's strongest backers, the Brotherhood's supreme leader Mohammed Badie, for incitement to violence, Egypt's official news agency MENA reported yesterday.
For their part, both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist al-Nour Front condemned General al-Sisi's speech as an open invitation to "civil war", comparing it to Assad's call on Syrians to go to war against the insurgents. In fact, a series of counter-demonstrations organised by the brotherhood are planned for tomorrow, Friday, in response to General al-Sisi's appeal.
Conversely, the military-backed provisional government can count on liberal parties, secularists and moderate Islamists, who led the 30 June protests.
In view of the uncertainties surrounding the transition of power led by Egypt's military, Washington is being extremely cautious. Yesterday, the United States decided to put on hold plans to supply Egypt with F-16 fighter jets but gave no details.
For the past 30 years, the United States has been Egypt's main weapons supplier, but "Given the current situation in Egypt we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s," Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
Nevertheless, "We remain committed to the US-Egypt defines relationship as it remains a foundation of our broader strategic partnership with Egypt and serves as a pillar of regional stability," he added.