Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi made major changes to the intelligence agency, which included dismissing the director of the agency, along with other intelligence officials and officers.
Sisi’s chief of staff Abbas Kamel will serve as interim head of the General Intelligence Directorate, the non-military state branch of the Egyptian intelligence services, replacing Khalid Fawzy, who has served since 2014, according to Al-Masry al-Youm.
Egyptian political sources linked the dismissal to the recent leaks published by The New York Times and broadcasted by Mekameleen television channel.
These leaks reveal an officer from the military intelligence agency giving instructions to journalists to incite against Qatar and Kuwait, as well as convince the Egyptian public opinion to abandon Jerusalem.
In four phone conversations, a man named by the Times as Captain Ashraf al-Kholi told talk-show hosts Mofid Fawzy, Saeed Hassaseen and Azmi Megahed and actress Yousra that the Egyptian state wanted highly influential people such as themselves to convince Egyptians that Trump’s plan was in their country’s interests.
In response, Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) said in a statement that no one by the name of Ashraf al-Kholi worked for the intelligence service and denied the accuracy of the report.
The statement added that two of the people mentioned by the report as TV talk show hosts – Fawzy and Hassaseen – had stopped presenting television shows.
Initially Megahed, the other TV host, confirmed the authenticity of the recording, describing the intelligence officer as a long-time acquaintance. But Megahed later retracted that statement, and in an Egyptian TV interview claimed that the Times had misquoted him.
In fact, there is no doubt that these major changes are a part of the current restructuring process carried out by Al-Sisi ahead of the presidential elections, amid presidential fears of developments or changes taking place that would impact Al-Sisi’s chances of being elected for another presidential term.
Saudi analyst Jamal Khashoggi suggested that the promotion of Kamel indicated a dwindling pool of potential appointments for the post.
He tweeted, “When Sisi can’t find anyone else but his chief of staff to hand over the general intelligence to, you know there is a deep confidence issue within Egypt’s ruling circles.”
The appointment of Kamel followed a cabinet reshuffle on Sunday, two months ahead of a scheduled presidential election.
Egyptians will vote in the presidential election on 26-28 March, with a run-off on 24-26 April. Candidates must register between 20 and 29 January.