Egyptians yesterday launched the Arabic hashtag “I did not delegate” to express their rejection of Parliament’s decision to authorise President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to send forces outside the country under the pretext of “preserving national security”.
In a televised speech on 20 June, Al-Sisi, who supports renegade General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), hinted to commanders and soldiers in a region bordering Libya that there was a possibility that “external military missions” would be carried out “if necessary”, considering that “direct intervention in Libya has been granted a legitimacy”.
On Monday, Egypt’s parliament approved the deployment of armed forces abroad to fight “criminal militias” and “foreign terrorist groups” on a “western front”, in an apparent reference to Libya.
Online activists have, however, said this is an attempt by Al-Sisi to shift focus away from his mishandling of the coronavirus in the country and the negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which threatens to harm Egyptians’ access to their water lifeline.
Egypt’s medical syndicate has previously said that more than 100 doctors have died of the coronavirus and more than 3,000 have been infected by the disease. In May it warned the health care system was about to collapse and blamed the government for not providing adequate PPE or enough tests for medics who came into contact with known infections.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Egypt authorities have cracked down on healthcare workers who have criticised the government’s handling of the crisis.
Egypt officially has 89,745 coronavirus cases and 4,440 deaths – the highest in the region – but experts believe the real figures to be far higher.
At least ten doctors and six journalists have been detained since the virus first appeared in Egypt whilst some 117 doctors, 39 nurses and 32 pharmacists have died of COVID-19.