1. Abdel Hakim Amer (1919–1967)
Amer served in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, took part in the 1952 Revolution and commanded the Egyptian Army in the Suez Crisis, the North Yemen Civil War and the Six-Day War.
Amer played a leading role in the military coup that overthrew King Farouk in 1952 and which brought General Muhammad Naguib and Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser to power. The following year, Amer was made Egypt's Chief-of-Staff, bypassing four military ranks. In 1956, Amer was appointed commander-in-chief of the joint military command established by Egypt and Syria. He also led Egyptian forces against both Israeli and allied British-French forces during the 1956 Suez war.
In March 1964, Amer was made first vice-president to Nasser and deputy supreme
commander, with the power to rule for 60 days if the president was
incapacitated. Amer's distinguished career came to a sudden end after Egypt's
crushing defeat by Israel in the Six-Day War of June 1967. Many historians have
stated that much the Egyptian military's failures in the 1967 war can be laid at
the feet of Amer. This is because Amer's control of the Egyptian military
establishment followed in line with leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser's general policy
of presenting different government institutions as fiefdoms to those most loyal
to him. In addition, the proxy war Egypt (with Soviet backing) fought against
the Saudis, West, and Israelis in the North Yemen Civil War (1962–1970), Nasser
supporting the Yemen Arab Republic against the Western and Saudi Arabian backed
Royalists, is also viewed as being key to Egypt's defeat in the 1967 Middle East
war; as nearly half of the Egypt's Western-trained officer-corps (mostly in
Britain at Sandhurst) was in Yemen at the time of the initial Israeli attack on
When Amer heard of the fall of Abu Ageila to Israel, he panicked and ordered all units in the Sinai to retreat. This order effectively meant the defeat of Egypt. He was relieved of all his duties and forced into early retirement.
In August that year, Amer, along with over 50 Egyptian military officers and two
former ministers, was arrested for allegedly plotting a coup to overthrow
Nasser. He was kept under house arrest at his villa in Giza.
According to the official Egyptian position, Amer was rushed to hospital on 13 September 1967 in an attempt to save his life after he attempted suicide by swallowing "a large amount of poison pills" upon the arrival of Egyptian officers to question him. After surviving and being taken home the next day, he managed to evade his guards and swallow more pills he kept hidden under an adhesive plaster on his leg. Later, Cairo radio announced his burial in his home village of Astal.
One version of the story holds that Amer was approached at his house on 14 September by high-ranking Egyptian officers and was
given a choice to stand trial for treason, which would inevitably have ended with his conviction and execution, or die an honorable death by taking poison.
Amer chose the latter option and received a full military burial. Anwar Al
Sadat, who later became President of Egypt, expressed his opinion that if he was
in Amer's position, he would have done the same soon after the Six-Day War.
In September 2012, Amer's family filled a case to investigate his death. They
claimed that he was murdered.
2. Abd al-Halim Abu Ghazala (1930–2008)
Field Marshal Abd al-Halim Abu Ghazala was the artillery commander in chief
during October War of 1973. When Minister of defense and military production,
Ahmad Badawi, died along with 12 senior officers in a helicopter crash on 2
March 1981\ Anwar Sadat appointed Abu Ghazala minister of defense and military
He did not participate in the Six Day War of 1967
as he was serving in the
He was also involved with Gust Avrakotos and Charlie Wilson in supplying weapons
to the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet Afghan war. The CIA bought the
weapons and passed them through Pakistan's ISI to the Afghan rebel groups. Items
included .303 ammo for Lee Enfield rifles, limpet mines, and urban terrorist
devices like bicycle bombs. There were also a number of rockets that some
believe was the Katyusha.
In 2005, Ghazala was briefly rumored to be a presidential candidate for the powerful but illegal Muslim Brotherhood. He finally did not run, and the Muslim Brothers did not field a candidate in the first contested Egyptian presidential election 2005. The Muslim Brotherhood offered him to run as their presidential candidate, but he refused due to their different ideological backgrounds.
3. Mohamed Abdel Ghani el-Gamasy (1921–2003)
During the War of Attrition, on March 1969, then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser
appointed el-Gamasy as commander of the Second Field Army.
His appointment was
part of a process of rooting out former general commander Abdel Hakim Amer's
mostly incompetent loyalists with capable commanders, including Abdul Munim
Riad, Saad el-Shazly and Ahmed Ismail. El-Gamasy later wrote that Nasser should
have deconstructed Amer's autonomous web of control in the armed forces
following the Egyptian military failure during the Suez Crisis in 1956.
El-Gamasy was well known for being the Chief of Operations for all Ground Forces participating in the 1973 October War.
He was also appointed by Anwar Sadat as the head of the group that participated in the disengagement talks on 28 October, at "Kilometer 101". Reportedly, he was sad for the lost souls at the war when the American secretary of state Henry Kissinger announced that the president Sadat agreed to pull the main part of the Egyptian forces from the east side of the Suez Canal in exchange of the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the west side of the Suez Canal and retreat back into the depth of Sinai.
On 7 June 2003, El Gamasy died in a hospital in Cairo after a long battle with illness.
4. 1991 - Mohamed Hussein Tantawi (b. 1935)
Tantawi, who is of Nubian origin, joined the Egyptian Military Academy in 1952 and received his commission as an Army officer on 1 April 1955 in the infantry. Later that year he took part in the Suez War (or the Tripartite Aggression as it is often known in Egypt) as an infantry platoon commander. Later in his career
he was involved in the Six-Day War of 1967, where he was wounded in action as a battalion commander, the War of Attrition of 1967–1970, and the October or Yom Kippur War of 1973. During the Yom Kippur War he was a Colonel and the chief operations officer GSO-I of the 7th Infantry Division of the Second Field Army. He held various command and staff appointments including both the Chief of Staff and then Commander of the Egyptian Second Army between 1986 and 1989. Additionally he has served as the military attaché to Pakistan between 1983 and 1985, an important role given the two countries political and military links. Tantawi has served as Commander of the Republican Guard between 1989 and 1991, and Chief of the Operations Authority of the Armed Forces. In 1991,
he also commanded an Egyptian Army unit in the U.S.-led Gulf War against Iraq to force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, which it invaded in 1990.
On 29 May 1991, following the dismissal of Lt. General Youssef Sabri Abu Taleb,
Tantawi was appointed as minister of defense and military production and
commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces. He was also appointed as field
marshal. It is believed that Tantawi would have succeeded Mubarak as president
of Egypt, had the assassination attempt in June 1995 been successful.
Early in 2011, Tantawi was seen as a possible contender for the Egyptian
On 11 February 2011, when President Hosni Mubarak resigned, after 18 days of protests from the Egyptian people, Tantawi transferred authority to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, headed by himself. The council, overseeing issues with the Chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Farouk Sultan, dissolved the Egyptian parliament, overseen the referendum over temporary constitutional amendments took place on 19 March, and presided over the accountability of Mubarak and many of the former regime's top figures summons to justice.
On a personal level, Tantawi kept a relatively low profile since the handing over of power to the Council, only making a first public appearance in an address to mark the graduation of a batch at the Police Academy on 16 May 2011. He opted to leave most public speeches and press releases to other senior members in the council, he also appointed Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his cabinet. Tantawi also received a number of foreign officials, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
After a new series of protests in November 2011, that escalated by 22 November
to over 33 dead and over 2,000 injured in the wake of the use of force by the
police to quell protests at Tahrir Square and its vicinity, Tantawi appeared on
Egyptian national television to pledge the speeding up of presidential elections
– the principal demand of protesters – and that the armed forces "are fully
prepared to immediately hand over power and to return to their original duty in
protecting the homeland if that's what the people want, through a popular
referendum if necessary.
On 12 August 2012, Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi ordered Tantawi to retire as head of the armed forces and defence minister.
Tantawi has been decorated with the Order of the Nile and appointed, instead, as
an advisor to Morsi; there is speculation that his removal is part of a
pre-arranged withdrawal by the military from political power in exchange for
immunity from prosecution for earlier actions
Criticism of Tantawi in Egypt has been manyfold, including many chants in Tahrir for him to leave. Chants against Tantawi have included "Tantawi stripped your women naked, come join us."
According to The Telegraph, protesters have also "demanded the execution of
Nabeel Rajab, the head of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, criticized Tantawi
for his reception for king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in October 2011.
"This is a very bad message from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to the
international community, the Egyptian and Bahraini people", he said. "Continuing
this path threatens Egypt's democratic future", he added.
4. 2014 - Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (b. 1954)
El-Sisi received his commission as a military officer in 1977 serving in the mechanized infantry, specializing in anti-tank warfare and mortar warfare. He became Commander of the Northern Military Region-Alexandria in 2008 and then Director of Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance. El-Sisi was the youngest member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of Egypt. While a member of the Supreme Council, he made controversial statements regarding allegations that Egyptian soldiers had subjected detained female demonstrators to forced virginity tests. He is reported to have told Egypt's state-owned newspaper that "the virginity-test procedure was done to protect the girls from rape as well as to protect the soldiers and officers from rape accusations." He was the first member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to admit that the invasive tests had been carried out. He was:
Commander, 509th Mechanized Infantry Battalion
Chief of Staff, 134th Mechanized Infantry Brigade
Commander, 16th Mechanized Infantry Brigade
Chief of Staff, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Division
Chief of Staff, Northern Military Zone
Deputy Director, Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance Department
Director, Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance Department
On 12 August 2012, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made a decision to replace Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, with then little-known el-Sisi. He also promoted him to the rank of colonel general. Sisi was then described by the official website of FJP as a "Defense minister with revolutionary taste". El-Sisi also took the post of Minister of Defense and Military Production in the Qandil Cabinet.
After el-Sisi was appointed as minister of defense on 12 August 2012, there were concerns in Egypt regarding rumors that General el-Sisi was the hand of the Muslim Brotherhood in the army, though el-Sisi has always declared that the Egyptian army stands on the side of the Egyptian people. On 28 April 2013, during celebrations for Sinai Liberation Day, el-Sisi said that, "the hand that harms any Egyptian must be cut".
This statement was taken by Morsi opponents as a clarification that the Army is
in support of them. However, the statement was interpreted by Morsi supporters
as a warning to Morsi opponents that el-Sisi would not allow an overthrow of the
government. He remained in office under the new government formed after the
deposition of Morsi, and led by Hazem al-Beblawi. He was also appointed Deputy
Prime Minister of Egypt. On 27 January 2014, he was promoted to the rank of
Main articles: June 2013 Egyptian protests and 2013 Egyptian coup d'état
On 30 June 2013, in response to the Tamarod movement, mass demonstrations took place in Tahrir Square and Heliopolis Palace in Cairo as well as in other Egyptian cities including Alexandria, Port Said and Suez.
Clashes took place around Egypt. Soon afterwards, the Egyptian Army issued a
48-hour ultimatum which aired on television that gave the country's political
parties until 3 July to meet the demands of the anti-Morsi demonstrators. The
Egyptian military also threatened to intervene if the dispute was not resolved
On 2 July 2013, the presidency rejected the Egyptian Army's 48-hour ultimatum and Morsi made a late speech declaring that he would "defend the legitimacy of his elected office with his life and he won't step down".
On 3 July 2013, the Egyptian Army declared that as the political parties had failed to meet the deadline and Morsi had failed to build a national consensus for his leadership, they had to overthrow Morsi.
The Egyptian Army then installed Adly Mansour as the interim head of state in his place, and ordered the arrest of many members of the Muslim Brotherhood on charges of "inciting violence and disturbing general security and peace."
El-Sisi announced on television that the president had "failed to meet the
demands of the Egyptian people" and declared that the constitution would be
suspended, which was met by acceptance from anti-Morsi demonstrations and
condemnation from pro-Morsi supporters in Rabaa al-Adawiya. Many Islamist
movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Wasat Party and al-Gama'a
al-Islamiyya, rejected the change of regime as a military coup, which they
described as "illegitimate" and "anti-democratic".
On 24 July 2013, during a speech at a military parade, General el-Sisi called for mass demonstrations to grant the Egyptian military and police a "mandate" to crack down on terrorism.
Some interpreted this to mean that el-Sisi felt the need of the people to prove
to the world that it wasn't a coup but the popular will, while the statement was
seen by others as contradicting the military's pledges to hand over power to
civilians after removing Morsi and as indicating an imminent crackdown against
The reactions to el-Sisi's announcement ranged from open support from the Egyptian presidency and the Tamarod movement to
rejection, not only by the Muslim Brotherhood but also by the Salafi Nour Party,
the moderate Strong Egypt Party, the revolutionary April 6 Youth Movement
and Egyptian human rights groups.
However, on 26 July 2013, millions rallied across Egypt, responding to el-Sisi's
call, a gathering which was described as "the largest crowds in 2½ years of
upheaval" and even bigger numbers than 30 June's numbers.
During the August 2013 Egyptian raids, the Egyptian military under el-Sisi's command joined the national police in removing camps of Muslim Brotherhood supporters from
sit-ins being held in Rabiaa and el-Nahda. This action resulted in rapidly escalating violence that eventually led to
deaths of 638 people, of whom 595 were civilians and 43 police officers, with at least 3,994 injured in addition to several incidents in various cities including Minya and Kerdasa. Some liberal activists who had supported the ousting of Morsi publicly voiced their concerns: "I'm not happy when they use violence. And I'm worried about them using it again," said Gamal Eid, a well-known human rights activist.
Robert Fisk described General el-Sisi as at a loss, but that a massacre would go down in history as an infamy. Lee Smith concluded that "Egypt’s New Leader Is Unfit to Rule". In a file published by the State Information Services, the government explained the raids by claiming that police went on to use force dispersing the sit-in on 14 August 2013, with the least possible damage, causing hundreds of civilians and police to fall as victims, while Muslim Brotherhood supporters imposed a blockade for 46 days against the people in an-Nahda and Rabaa al-Adawiya squares under the name of sit-in where tens of protesters took to the street daily hindered the lives of the Egyptians, causing unrest and the death or injury of many victims as well as damage to public and private properties.
A poll by the Egyptian Centre for Public Opinion Research later showed that 67
percent of Egyptians were satisfied concerning the methods by which the Rabaa
al-Adawiya and an-Nahda sit-ins had been dispersed.
On 3 August 2013, el-Sisi gave his first interview since the overthrow of
President Mohamed Morsi. Speaking to The Washington Post, he criticized the U.S.
response and accused the Obama administration of disregarding the Egyptian
popular will and of providing insufficient support amid threats of a civil war,
saying, "You left the Egyptians. You turned your back on the Egyptians, and they
won't forget that."
On the 6 October war anniversary, el-Sisi announced that the army was committed
to the popular mandate of 26 July 2013: "We are committed, in front of God, to
the Egyptian and Arab people that we will protect Egypt, the Egyptians and their
During the anniversary celebration, General el-Sisi invited the Emirati, Iraqi,
Bahraini, Moroccan and Jordanian defense ministers to celebrate with Egypt.
During his speech he said in a warning way that the Egyptian people "will never
forget who stood with them or against them". El-Sisi described 6 October as "a
day to celebrate for all Arabs", hoping for the "unification of Arabs". He also
thanked "Egypt's Arab brothers, who stood by its side." El-Sisi commented on the
relationship between the Egyptian army and Egyptian people, saying that it is
hard to break. El-Sisi said: “We would die before you [the Egyptian people]
would feel pain". He also compared the Egyptian army to the Pyramid, saying that
"it cannot be broken".
President Sisi was sworn into office on 8 June 2014. The event was marked by an impromptu public holiday in Egypt in conjunction with festivals held nationwide. Tahrir Square was prepared to receive millions of Egyptians celebrating Sisi's winning while police and army troops shut down the square outlets with barbed wires and barricades, as well as electronic portals for detecting any explosives that could spoil the festivities. Sisi's oath was held in the morning in Egypt's Supreme constitutional court in front of deputy head of the constitutional court, Maher Sami, who described el-Sisi as a "rebel soldier" and a "revolutionary hero"; ex-president Adly Mansour; other constitutional court members; and a group of Egypt's top politicians. Sisi later removed to the Heliopolis Palace, where a 21-gun salute welcomed the new president, before the ex-president received Sisi near the palace's stairway. Sisi then presided over a reception for the presidents, emirs, kings, and official delegations who had been invited. Turkey, Tunisia and Qatar weren't invited because of their critical stances regarding then-recent events in Egypt. Israel also wasn't invited. Sisi later gave a speech in front of the attendees and signed with the ex-president Adly Mansour, for the first time in the Egyptian history, the handover of power document. after Heliopolis Palace's ceremony el-Sisi moved to Koubbeh Palace where the final ceremony was held and el Sisi gave the final speech of the day, in front of 1200 attendees Representing different spectrums of the Egyptian people and the provinces of Egypt, presenting the problems facing Egypt and his plan saying "In its next phase, Egypt will witness a total rise on both internal and external fronts, to compensate what we have missed and correct the mistakes of the past,". Sisi also issued the first Presidential decree giving ex-president the Order of the Nile.
el-Sisi made an African tour marking Algeria his first abroad destination after taking office seeking Algeria's support to counter Islamist militancy in north Africa in a short visit, shortly before Sisi arrives in Malabo, Guinea to participate in the 23rd ordinary session of the African Union summit where he gave his speech blaming the AU for freezing Egypt's membership a year before. el-Sisi also announced the establishment of an Egyptian partnership agency for Africa's development.
he also concluded the tour with a few hours' visit to Sudan.
President Sisi, who repeatedly during his presidential campaign encouraged Egyptians to work harder and to wake up on 5pm, urged Egyptians to be ready for what he have called "The hard work phase". In his first meeting with his cabinet, Sisi told his ministers they must set an example by being in the office by 07:00 Sisi in first street appearance after the cabinet sworn in, participated in a surprising 20-kilometer bike marathon wearing sporting gear and followed by his cabinet ministers, many actors, singers, military and police students to encourage low consumption of fuel which is costing the government billions of dollars every year. Sisi encouraged Egyptians to help rebuilding the Egyptian economy saying that he will give the example announcing that he is donating half his salary and half his personal assets including his inheritance to support the Egyptian economy. a move that will force senior officials and prominent businessmen to do the same. after his call, Colonel General Sedki Sobhi announced that the Egyptian Armed Forces would help supporting the economy by donating $140m (£82m).
Sisi has also ordered the ministry of finance to enforce rules on maximum wages
estimated at 42,000 EGP ($5,873) per month.
Sisi has expressed his personal concerns about the sexual assaults issue in the
country, Sisi was photographed on a hospital visit to a woman receiving
treatment after an assault during celebrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square ordering
the army, the police, and the media to counter the issue.
Sisi, who is reportedly facing a severe economic ordeal in Egypt, has decided to raise fuel prices by 78 percent as an introduction to cut the subsidies on basic food stuffs and energy, which eat up nearly a quarter of the state budget. The Egyptian government has always provided these subsidies as a crucial aid to millions of people who live in poverty, fearing people's anger in 5 years time. Egypt has spent $96 billion on energy subsidies in a decade which made petrol in Egypt among the world's cheapest. Cutting the energy subsidies will save 51 billion pounds. The government hopes the decision will benefit services such as health and education. Sisi also raised taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, applying a flat tax on local and imported cigarettes to between 25 and 40 cents per pack, as well as new property taxes, and plans to introduce a new scheme for value-added taxes. Chicken prices would reportedly rise by 25 percent days after the decision because of added transportation costs. Mini-bus and taxi fares were raised by about 13 percent. The decision was met with anger from some, and a smattering of protests broke out after the announcement. Dozens of drivers and passengers blocked the road in the middle-income Cairo neighborhood of Shoubra el-Kheima. Slashing subsidies was recommended by international financial institutions, but no Egyptian leader had managed to broach the issue, fearing unrest in a country where nearly 50 percent of the population live in poverty and rely on government aid. President Sisi defended the decision to raise fuel prices, saying it was "bitter medicine" that should have been taken before and was "50 years late" but there was not, as governments feared, backlash like the Bread Riots of 1977.
Sisi, who previously accepted only half of his own pay, called on Egyptians to
make sacrifices, vowing to repair an economy growing at the slowest pace in two
decades, and describing raising energy prices as the only way to save the nation
from “drowning in debt”. Sisi warned Egyptians of more pain over the next two
years from economic problems that he said had accumulated over the last four
decades and needed to be fixed.
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