Middle East

Army chief's rally call finds backing in Egypt press

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Image caption Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made his call live on Egyptian state TV

Egyptian newspapers have widely welcomed a call by army chief and defence minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for Egyptians to take to the streets on Friday to give the army a "mandate" against what he called violence and "terrorism".

In contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice daily says it is a "mandate for killing".

And the US' delay in delivery of F-16 fighter jets attracted criticism from some social media users and a private TV channel.

'People's will'

An editorial in state-controlled daily Al-Jumhuriyah hails the role of the armed forces "which carried out the people's orders" after the 30 June protests against the then Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.

"The masses... will return tomorrow... to Egypt's squares and streets to stress their will and rectify the path of the glorious 25 January revolution."

In his article entitled "The people agree with Sisi", Abbas al-Tarabili in the mouthpiece of the liberal Al-Wafd Party Al-Wafd asks whether "Egypt's army which saved and protected the 25 January revolution and which responded to the demands of the nation to remove the Muslim Brotherhood and their rule needs popular consent in order to continue its sublime role in protecting the 30 June revolution?"

"Egypt's army is not in need of a new consent from the people because the Brotherhood is now pushing Egypt towards a dangerous dark tunnel," he says

In pro-reform daily Al-Misri al-Yawm, "Newton" believes that Gen Sisi "responded to the reaction of the public" in asking for a renewed mandate from the public.

"Al-Sisi wants continued and undoubted legitimacy. Egyptians took to the streets on 30 June to remove Morsi, and Egyptians will take to streets tomorrow against terrorism in support of General al-Sisi's call. Egyptians will remove terrorism tomorrow. They will remove the Brotherhood group."

Writer Muhammad Amin of the same daily also voices support for Gen Sisi.

"We have to renew the legitimacy of the revolution, we have to renew the legitimacy of the [protest hub Tahrir] square, and at the same time it is a message from the people to stress the roadmap for the future. There is no going back. The age of the Brotherhood is over," he declares.

Salah Muntasir of state-controlled Al-Ahram agrees. "We declare our mandate to our armed forces and our police apparatus to take decisive measures to protect Egypt from the threats of terrorism and violence that prevail in the country."

'Our date is Friday'

Ahmad al-Birri of the same daily believes that the general's call "is welcomed by the masses of the people after the chaos that the Brotherhood group caused in the various governorates."

Jalal Arif in pro-revolution Al-Tahrir says that the "millions who took to streets on 30 June and who will take to streets tomorrow will once again affirm that Egypt will not be an arena for terrorism or civil wars".

Image caption Muslim Brotherhood supporters continue to call for Mohammed Morsi's return

Writer Ibrahim Isa in the same daily wrote in his article "Our date is Friday" that "salvation from this terrorist group" is "imminent".

But Mohammed Jamal Arafah of the Muslim Brotherhood's Al-Hurriyah wal-Adalah newspaper asks: "Is it not the duty of the Egyptian army to protect all Egyptians and not take sides with one party against the other, and not to ignite a civil war?"

"I believe that the speech that Gen al-Sisi delivered yesterday is the most dangerous speech at all, and is an open call to a civil war," he adds.

In an article in the liberal Al-Shuruq daily, entitled "Drums of civil war", Islamist writer Fahmi Huwaydi criticises Gen Sisi's call for massive protests.

He says: "When the defence minister makes a call with this content... we could be on the threshold of a civil war, as we will be about to summon masses of people to face other masses."

US pressure

The decision taken by Washington to delay the delivery of F-16 jets to Egypt, which came after Gen Sisi's call, has not yet been commented on by the media, but has prompted some social media users to spring to his defence.

Activist Hazim Abd-al-Azim tweeted in Arabic: "News of delaying an F-16 deal with Egypt after al-Sisi's speech. The situation is very obvious. Al-Sisi is a lion standing against the USA. Will we leave our army alone against them? It would be better to die then".

Activist Karim M Khalil responded on Twitter to comments against protesting on 26 July that suggested Gen Al-Sisi needs no mandate. "Your beloved USA is disciplining your enemy Al-Sisi and they say he needs no mandate; objection," he tweeted in Arabic.

And one private TV station joined the debate.

Privately-owned CBC TV's presenter Lamis al-Hadidi also criticised the US decision to delay F-16 fighter jet delivery to Egypt, saying that the US "continues its support to the deposed Brotherhood regime and its pressure on the Egyptian interim government".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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