CAIRO - Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has sharply criticized the US response towards his move to oust Egypt's first democratically elected president, accusing Obama administration of failing to properly support Egypt, despite the threats of civil war.
You left the Egyptians. You turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won't forget that, an indignant Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, speaking of the US government, told The Washington Post in an exclusive interview.
Now you want to continue turning your backs on Egyptians?
Deemed as the most powerful man in Egypt, Sisi moved to oust Mohamed Morsi, the nation's first democratically elected president, last July 3.
Appointed by Morsi himself to replace old guards in Mubarak military council, the 58-year-old general said he had recognized problems with Morsi from the day he was inaugurated.
The president, Sissi said, was not a president for all Egyptians but a president representing his followers and supporters.
Portraying himself as reluctant to move against Morsi, Sisi said he had done all he could during the president's year in office to help him succeed.
I expected if we didn't intervene, it would have turned into a civil war, he said.
Like many pro-military Egyptians, Sissi appeared angry that the United States has not fully endorsed what he described as a free people who rebelled against an unjust political rule.
Sisi's comments were seen as a trial to avoid losing $1.3 billion US military aid, which could be cut if Morsi's removal was labeled a coup.
Though the military has also intervened in 2011 to remove longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak's regime, which was applauded in Washington, Morsi had been elected in a vote widely seen as free and fair.
The United States has walked a delicate line on Egypt, opting against labeling Morsi's removal a "coup".
But US ties with Egypt's armed forces have shown signs of strain, including President Barack Obama's decision last month to halt delivery of four F-16 fighter jets.
This is not the way to deal with a patriotic military, Sisi said.
Thousands of pro-Morsi supporters have accused the Obama administration of acquiescing to a military coup, especially after deadly clashes between protesters and security forced led to the death of more than 200 people.
Seeking a way out of the crisis, Egypt's top general asked the US to persuade the Muslim Brotherhood to back down from the Cairo sit-ins if it wants to avoid further bloodshed.
The US administration has a lot of leverage and influence with the Muslim Brotherhood, Sissi said.
I'd really like the US administration to use this leverage with them to resolve the conflict.
Sissi spoke on the same day that Secretary of State John F. Kerry made the administration's most supportive comments to date, saying that Egypt's army was restoring democracy.
The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, Kerry said during a visit to Pakistan.
The military did not take over, to the best of our judgment so far.
In response to Kerry's Thursday comments, which appeared to back the military, Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad said the Obama administration is supporting tyranny and dictatorship.
Egypt has been thrown into turmoil after Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, was ousted by the powerful military after massive protests against his regime.
The army also suspended the constitution and instated the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court as interim president.
The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, has vowed peaceful protests until the Islamist president is reinstated.
Weeks of violence have followed Morsi' ousting lave left more than 200 dead and laying bare divisions that have polarized the Arab world's most populous state.
Despite bloodshed, Sisi seemed far from backing out from his road map, stopping short of ruling out chances of running for presidency himself.
The most important achievement in my life is to overcome this circumstance, [to ensure] that we live peacefully, to go on with our road map and to be able to conduct the coming elections without shedding one drop of Egyptian blood, he said.
When the people love you, this is the most important thing for me.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net