Egypt’s Sisi warns of ‘chaos’ on eve of planned rallies

By Hussein Mahmoud

CAIRO (AA) – Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday called for national unity on the eve of planned anti-regime protests, going on to warn against what he described as “calls for chaos” by the regime’s critics.

Opposition groups have called for mass demonstrations on Monday — to coincide with Egypt’s “Sinai Liberation Day” — to protest a recent government decision to transfer sovereignty of two Red Sea islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

In a televised address broadcast Sunday, al-Sisi declared that he would not tolerate attempts to undermine security or sow chaos in Egypt.

“There are evil powers that seek to harm Egypt’s security and stability,” he said. “I tell the Egyptian people that our responsibility is to protect [Egypt].”

Al-Sisi, a former army chief who came to power in 2014 after spearheading the ouster of elected President Mohamed Morsi by the military, has repeatedly blamed Egypt’s chronic political and economic woes on “evil powers”.

He went on to say that Egypt had paid a “steep price” to establish its state institutions.

“Over the last three years, we have succeeded in establishing state institutions, such as parliament, the constitution and the presidency. Egypt’s survival depends on the survival of these institutions,” he said.

“We will not tolerate any attempts to harm Egypt, its institutions or its security,” the president stressed.

Al-Sisi has come under fire since his government announced earlier this month that sovereignty over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir — both located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba — would be ceded to oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

The Egyptian government has defended the move, saying that Egypt had assumed control of the two islands in 1950 amid concerns they might be seized by Israel.

The controversial maritime border readjustment, which was announced during a recent visit by Saudi King Salman to Egypt, has sparked public outrage and accusations that al-Sisi was “selling” Egyptian territory to Saudi Arabia, which was a major supporter of Morsi’s 2013 ouster.