“Angry” was the way many described President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s improvised speech during the inauguration ceremony of the Zohr natural gas field on January 31.
The president declared that the only way Egypt’s national security could be compromised was over his “dead body” and the “dead body of the military.”
But who exactly the president is angry at is not clear. Sisi did not specify whether he was addressing opposition leaders — many of whom have called for a boycott of the upcoming presidential elections — or individuals within state institutions who have antagonized him as of late.
The speech follows a series of high-level shuffles within the security apparatus, with Sisi unexpectedly dismissing Armed Forces’ Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy in October of last year. According to a family friend, Hegazy had been under house arrest until December 16, when he appeared at a small event held to honor him — which the president attended — and where the dismissed official was permitted limited movement under strict surveillance.
In January of this year, Sisi also dismissed Khaled Fawzy, the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service (GIS). Fawzy’s movement has also been restricted, according to a source close to his family. He was removed from his post after calls were allegedly leaked in which a man who appears to be affiliated with Military Intelligence speaks to media talk show hosts and celebrities and instructs them to appear understanding of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The man is also heard condemning Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for political stances that Cairo is not pleased with, especially with the rapprochement between Kuwait and Qatar and the fear of a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood. The leaks have yet to be independently verified.
According to a Foreign Ministry source and to a European diplomat who has recently visited both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the leaked calls have made officials from both countries unhappy, and compelled the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to release a statement of apology to Kuwait and take unannounced measures to placate Saudi Arabia.