Egypt Watch

Osama Askar: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appoints the controversial general as the military’s chief-of-staff

Tuesday, afternoon, Egypt’s state-sponsored TV channels as well as Arab news TV channels put a red screen strap declaring an urgent news reading, “The Egyptian president Abdel Fattah appoints the Major General Osama Roshdy as the Egyptian military’s chief-of-staff.”

Osama Roshdy is the name of the Egyptian Major General Osama Askar who was the commander of the Egyptian third army that spreads in Sinai. The news raised controversy as it came after years over which news were reported about raging conflict between the general and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

In January 29, 2015, Ansar Beit al-Maqdes (later, Wilayet Sinai Organization of ISIS) attacked the Egyptian army’s battalion 101 in al-Arish in a direct offence that killed over 30 Egyptian militaries. Two days after the attack, Askar was promoted to the rank of Major General and was appointed to a new post called the commander of the east canal military zone. The promotion and the new pose were then seen as a chic exclusion of Askar. Indeed, Askar was dismissed from the military tasks in December 2016 and given a formal post as the assistant of the minister of defense for Sinai development. In September 2017, Mekamellin TV, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood TV, said that 3 military sources told it that Askar as well as his family’s members are put under house arrest in al-Masa Hotel, which is owned by the military, after it was revealed that his son, which is just 21 years old, owns a company with a capital of EGP 50 million. According to Mekamellin, investigations revealed that Askar was proven to defalcate about EGP 500 million during his military work in Sinai, and he is under pressure to pay the money back, but he refuses. But in the same month, Askar appeared with al-Sisi in his visit to the military units participating in the Bright Star Military Maneuver. Months later, Arabic Post news website reported that the conflict between Askar and al-Sisi is not related to financial corruption. Instead, the website quoted an anonymous general who said that Askar supported Sami Anan, the ex-military chief-of-staff, when the latter attempted to run for presidency against al-Sisi in 2016, and he held meetings with Anan. In December 2019, Askar returned back to the fore, when he was appointed to head the military operations authority. The news was surprising because it is untraditional to recruit a general again in military tasks after dismissal.

Today, Askar assumes his new post succeeding Major General Mohamed Farid Hegazy in a time when there are no other periodical movements in the military posts, what gives the decision an exceptional character and opens controversy over the real power of Askar inside the Egyptian military and his obscure relations with al-Sisi.