Sisi changes top army generals amid speculation of presidential run

Move raises expectation Sisi is preparing to run for presidency; Egypt claims US blocking arms deal as punishment.

Egyptian military leader Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (photo credit: REUTERS)
Egyptian military leader Abdel Fatah al-Sisi
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Egyptian army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi changed some of his country’s top military leadership on Monday, raising expectations that the move was in preparation for a possible announcement to run for president, local media reported.
Sisi chose Mohamed al-Shahat to replace Maj.-Gen. Ahmed Wasfy as head of Egypt’s Second Field Army, which has been fighting jihadists in Sinai. The Second Army is stationed on the Suez Canal and in northern Sinai. Wasfy is set to become the head of the military’s training.
The commander of the Southern Military District was appointed head of the Armed Forces Inspection Authority; Gen. Yehia al-Gebaily is set to replace him.
Meanwhile, a military source told the London-based Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat that the White House was delaying an arms deal that included 10 Apache helicopters to help put down the Islamist insurgency in Sinai.
The US partial aid and weapons freeze was largely seen as punishment for the military coup and crackdown on former president Mohamed Morsi and his supporters.
On Monday, an army spokesman announced that three extremists had been killed in clashes and another 17 arrested by security forces in Sinai, Egyptian news site Aswat Masriya reported.
“The security forces attacked a number of terrorist and criminal spots in El-Arish on Saturday and Sunday,” he said, adding that security forces had destroyed nine tunnels and 60 huts that terrorists had been using “for planning and implementing their attacks against the army and police.”
On Tuesday, the Sudan Tribune reported that the head of the Egyptian border guard, Maj.-Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim, had arrived in Khartoum on Monday for discussions on forming a joint force to guard the Egyptian-Sudanese border.
Smugglers transport arms to jihadists in Sinai and Gaza and engage in human trafficking in the border area. Many African migrants make their way to Israel by crossing through the Sudanese-Egyptian border.
In a separate development, prosecutors have decided to refer Abdullah Morsi, the son of the former president, to court on charges of marijuana possession, according to a Monday report on Ahram Online.
Abdullah Morsi and a friend were arrested earlier this month for allegedly possessing cannabis. Prosecutors said that tests showed the two had used drugs.