Egypt military takes tough line with MB after Clinton visit


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi before a meeting at the Ministry of Defense in Cairo, Egypt, on July 15, 2012.

Egypt’s military takes a tough line with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), saying the Armed Forces will not let the country to be dominated by just one group.

The head of the military, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi’s strong remarks came only hours after he met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Cairo on Sunday, The Associated Press reported.

“Egypt will never fall. It belongs to all Egyptians and not to a certain group the armed forces will not allow it,” Tantawi told reporters in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia.

“The armed forces will not allow anyone, especially those pushed from outside, to distract it from its role as the protector of Egypt,’’ the chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) added.

SCAF took power in February 2011 after the Egyptians launched a revolution against the pro-Israeli regime in January, which eventually brought an end to the 30-year dictatorship of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Days before Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was sworn in on June 30, the Muslim Brotherhood-led parliament was dissolved by SCAF-backed Supreme Constitutional Court.

Last week, Morsi, who quit the Muslim Brotherhood to become the president, ordered the parliament to reconvene, in defiance of the June 14 ruling by the high court. Under a constitutional declaration issued on June 17, the military assumed legislative powers and control over the country’s budget.

Morsi ordered the dissolved parliament to resume its legislative activities and also called for new parliamentary elections to be held within 60 days of the ratification of the new constitution.

However, the high court overturned Morsi’s decree, ruling that its decision was ‘binding’ and could not be challenged.

Egyptian pundits say the military and the high court are trying to undermine the powers of the new president in order to hang on to power.

On Saturday, Clinton, who is on a two-day visit to Egypt, held a meeting with Morsi in Cairo. On Sunday, she met with Tantawi and urged him to support a transition to civilian rule.

“They discussed the political transition and the SCAF’s ongoing dialogue with President Morsi,” a US State Department official told reporters.

Washington, which threw its weight behind the Mubarak regime for over three decades, now claims to support Egypt’s transition to democracy.

GJH/AS/HN

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