Here’s a shocking interview on BBC World Service, July 5. Owen Bennett-Jones interviews Ayman Salama, a retired Egyptian brigadier general connected with Cairo’s military academy. Go to minute 5.
Salama says the military is preparing many charges against Morsi, dealing particularly with “the national security in Sinai and with the [Gaza] tunnels,” which allow “jihadis and extremists” associated with Hamas to enter the Sinai and inflict losses on the Egyptian army.
“This is number one,” Salama says.
Bennett-Jones: “You’re saying that the main offense from the army’s point of view is that President Morsi was too helpful to Hamas.”
Salama: “That’s– in particular, criminally speaking he actually … threatened the national and military highest interests of the army and the whole nation… by collaborating to Hamas against the security interests of the army in Sinai.”
Bennett-Jones says that if Morsi’s the president he can decide what policy he has to Hamas or Israel.
Salama: “Theoretically and legally speaking, in books he is the president and the supreme commander… But he is the first civilian commander… that’s why there have been misunderstandings from the president… that endangers and jeopardizes the national security, bearing in mind the geopolitical and military actually features of a state like Egypt with neighboring countries, especially Israel and Hamas… So there have been many points… of disagreement between the president and the military…
“And let me repeat it again, the military asked the president many times to give them directives… to shut off all tunnels, with Gaza, but the president claim that there have been many humanitarian [reasons]…. to let them have a breathe against the Israeli blockade against Gaza strip.”
Bennett-Jones, apologizing for caricaturing Salama’s argument, says that we in the west thought the army did this to defend liberal Egypt. “But in fact you did it to defend Israel?”
Salama: “No no I do not think so. Directly and frankly speaking, the army actually cannot …. engage or combat and serve effectively and successfully all terrorists’ activities in Sinai. The army is not experienced and qualified to this. This is universal world military doctrine. That’s why it is not actually in fact Israel but it is the Egyptian national interest– but we could not actually devaluate the mutual and important mutual cooperation in intelligence and security between the Egyptian armies and also the Israeli defense army. We cannot ignore this reality.”
New York Times reflects a similar view from the other side. Isabel Kershner reports:
Israelis see the prospect of a return to what they view as a more reliable status quo, as well as a weakening of Hamas, the militant Islamic group that runs Gaza.