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Egyptian army makes leadership changes

The Egyptian army has announced changes in the leadership of the Military Intelligence Service, the Second Field Army in the Sinai and the navy. The changes come amid speculation that their goal is either to replace some of the officers who played a prominent role in the coup or prepare for the war in Yemen. The army is also trying to put an end to attacks by the “Welayat Sinai” group on military targets in the peninsula.

Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi ratified a decision to appoint Major General Mohamed El-Shahat as director of military intelligence and reconnaissance, replacing General Salah al-Badri, who was in office for a year and has now been appointed as assistant defence minister. Sobhi also issued a decree appointing Major General Osama Rabie as Commander of the Navy, succeeding Lieutenant-General Osama El-Gendi. Major General Nasser Al Assi is the new Commander of the Second Field Army, replacing General El-Shahat.

El-Gendi is a prominent leader of the military council, which was involved in the post-coup arrangements in July 2013. His voice was identified on leaked tapes which revealed details of the place where ousted President Mohamed Morsi was being held. The senior officer also had a clear role in addressing the popular protests that followed the coup and what was described by the opponents as the “massacres in Alexandria at the hands of the Thunderbolt Marine Forces.”

A number of observers and political analysts have linked these changes of personnel with what is happening in the Sinai in terms of the attacks by Welayat Sinai against the army, and the defection of a number of officers and soldiers to join the group. Egypt’s possible participation with the Saudi-led coalition in a ground war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen is also a strong reason for the changes, it is believed.

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