Egyptian soldiers opened fire early Monday, July 8, on Muslim Brotherhood supporters at the Republican Guards Club in Cairo where deposed president Mohamed Morsi is held. Fifty-one demonstrators were killed and 300 were wounded. The army, who lost an officer and seven wounded soldiers, said “armed terrorists” tried to storm the compound. Egyptian media reported that the army and police forces opened fire after a group of demonstrators tried to climb the walls of the club. According to eyewitnesses, the army raided a quiet sit-in outside the Presidential Guards Club.
While events in Cairo following the Egyptian military takeover of power were the focus of media coverage, DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the army was quietly getting set to secure the country’s primary assets – Suez Canal traffic, the oil facilities in the town of Suez, and the Sumed oil pipeline – all extremely sensitive targets.
According to intelligence reaching the military, a radical Islamist force - made up of a clandestine Muslim Brotherhood raider unit called El Giza Al Sidi, Sinai Bedouin Salafists linked to al Qaeda and the Palestinian Hamas - are conspiring to activate commando and missile units for sabotaging Suez shipping and the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.
Hitting one ship transiting the canal or a single explosion at the pipeline would suffice to send world oil prices and insurance costs sky high.
This armed Islamist coalition also plans a major campaign of terror against Israel.
These concerns were underscored Sunday, July 7, when armed Salafists using at least 10 explosive devices blew up the Egyptian gas pipeline to Jordan rat a point south of El Arish in northern Sinai. The flow was brought to a halt.
That night, the Israeli Counter-Terror Bureau strongly urged Israelis to avoid traveling to Sinai and travelers already there to leave at once amid a rising danger of attack and abduction.
The Egyptian military has been warned that the El Giza Al Sidi raiders have been directed by their Muslim Brotherhood masters to attack the Sumed oil pipeline, which starts at Ain Sukhna on the Gulf of Suez, runs 320 kilometers through the Western desert and ends at Sidi Kerir on the Mediterranean coast south of Alexandria.
This attack would not just target the Egyptian EGPC, but also lash out at its Saudi and UAE co-owners, whom the Brotherhood accuses of abetting the military coup ousting them from power: the Saudi Aramco, and the International Petroleum Investment Co. of Abu Dhabi.
The fighting between Egyptian military and armed Islamists in Sinai went into its third day Monday with the eruption of a fierce battle close to the Israeli border not far from the Israeli Red Sea resort and port-town of Eilat. The sounds of gunfire and explosions reached the Ovda Israeli Air Force base 40 kilometers north of the town. As a precaution, the Israeli army closed to civilian traffic the section of Route 12 from northern Israel to Eilat which runs close to the Sinai border.
Armed Salafists tearing around in minivans continued to attack Egyptian army and police positions and checkpoints at El Arish and Sheikh Zweid, firing the heavy machine guns and missile launchers mounted on their vehicles. Some used Grads. An Egyptian soldier and a policeman were killed Sunday.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Egyptian army has taken down some of its Sinai checkpoints and is relocating a smaller number on main intersections and manning them with larger contingents.