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El-Sisi received his commission as a military officer in 1977 serving in the mechanised infantry, specialising in anti-tank warfare and mortar warfare. He became Commander of the Northern Military Region-Alexandria in 2008 and then Director of Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance. El-Sisi was the youngest member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of Egypt. While a member of the Supreme Council, he made controversial statements regarding allegations that Egyptian soldiers had subjected detained female demonstrators to forced virginity tests. He is reported to have told Egypt's state-owned newspaper that "the virginity-test procedure was done to protect the girls from rape as well as to protect the soldiers and officers from rape accusations." He was the first member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to admit that the invasive tests had been carried out.
Also reported is commander of the 23rd Mechanized Division, Third Field Army.
On 12 August 2012, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made a decision to replace the Mubarak-era Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, with then little-known el-Sisi. He also promoted him to the rank of colonel general. Sisi was then described by the official website of FJP as a "Defense minister with revolutionary taste". El-Sisi also took the post of Minister of Defense and Military Production in the Qandil Cabinet.
El-Sisi was appointed as Minister of Defense on 12 August 2012. He remained in office under the new government formed after the deposition of Morsi, and led by Hazem al-Beblawi. He was also appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Egypt. On 27 January 2014, he was promoted to the rank of field marshal.
Mass demonstrations occurred on 30 June 2013 as Egyptians took to the streets to denounce Mohamed Morsi. Clashes took place around Egypt. Soon afterwards, the Egyptian Army issued a 48-hour ultimatum which aired on television that gave the country's political parties until 3 July to meet the demands of the anti-Morsi demonstrators. The Egyptian military also threatened to intervene if the dispute was not resolved by then. On 3 July 2013, the Egyptian Armed Forces declared that as the political parties had failed to meet the deadline and Morsi had failed to build a national consensus for his leadership, the army had to overthrow Morsi in a coup d'état. The army then installed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court Adly Mansour as the interim head of state in his place until a new president could be elected, and ordered the arrest of many members of the Muslim Brotherhood on charges of "inciting violence and disturbing general security and peace." El-Sisi announced on television that the president had "failed to meet the demands of the Egyptian people" and declared that the constitution would be temporarily suspended, which was met by acceptance from anti-Morsi demonstrations and condemnation from pro-Morsi supporters in Rabaa al-Adawiya.
On 24 July 2013, during a speech at a military parade, el-Sisi called for mass demonstrations to grant the Egyptian military and police a "mandate" to crack down on terrorism. While supporters interpreted this to mean that el-Sisi felt the need of the people to prove to the world that it was not a coup but the popular will, the statement was seen by opponents as contradicting the military's pledges to hand over power to civilians after removing Morsi and as indicating an imminent crackdown against Islamists.
The reactions to el-Sisi's announcement ranged from open support from the Egyptian presidency and the Tamarod movement to rejection, not only by the Muslim Brotherhood, but also by the Salafi Nour Party, the Islamist Strong Egypt Party, the liberal April 6 Youth Movement and some western-backed human rights groups. During the August 2013 Cairo sit-ins dispersal, the Egyptian military under el-Sisi's command was involved in assisting the national police in dispersing two sit-ins held by Muslim Brotherhood/Morsi supporters from sit-ins in Rabaa el-Adaweya and Nahda squares. This action resulted in rapidly escalating violence that eventually led to deaths of 638 people, of whom 595 were protestors and 43 were security forces, with at least 3,994 injured from both sides (according to the Ministry of Health). In addition to several violent incidents in various cities including Menya and Kerdasa against security forces which resulted in the Kerdasa massacre. Writing for British newspaper The Independent in August 2013, Robert Fisk described then-General el-Sisi as being at a loss, but that a massacre - as Fisk called the sit-in dispersal - would go down in history as an infamy. Writing for the American magazine Time, Lee Smith concluded that "Egypt's new leader is unfit to rule", referring not to the actual head of government at the time, interim president Adly Mansour, but to Sisi. In a file published by the State Information Services, the government explained the raids by stating that "police went on to use force dispersing the sit-in on 14 August 2013 with the least possible damage, causing hundreds of civilians and police to fall as victims, while Muslim Brotherhood supporters imposed a blockade for 46 days against the people in al-Nahda and Rabaa al-Adawiya squares under the name of sit-in where tens of protesters took to the street daily hindered the lives of the Egyptians, causing unrest and the death or injury of many victims as well as damage to public and private properties".
On 3 August 2013, el-Sisi gave his first interview since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi. Speaking to The Washington Post, he criticised the US response and accused the Obama administration of disregarding the Egyptian popular will and of providing insufficient support amid threats of a civil war, saying, "You left the Egyptians. You turned your back on the Egyptians and they won't forget that."
On 6 October war anniversary in 2013, el-Sisi announced that the army was committed to the popular mandate of 26 July 2013: "We are committed, in front of God, to the Egyptian and Arab people that we will protect Egypt, the Egyptians and their free will."
During the anniversary celebration that year, General el-Sisi invited the Emirati, Iraqi, Bahraini, Moroccan and Jordanian defense ministers to celebrate with him. During his speech he said in a warning way that the Egyptian people "will never forget who stood with them or against them". El-Sisi described 6 October as "a day to celebrate for all Arabs", hoping for the "unification of Arabs". He also thanked "Egypt's Arab brothers, who stood by its side." El-Sisi commented on the relationship between the Egyptian army and Egyptian people, saying that it is hard to break. El-Sisi said: "We would die before you [the Egyptian people] would feel pain". He also compared the Egyptian army to the Pyramid, saying that "it cannot be broken".
After Sisi had ousted president Morsi and disbanded the Shura Council, in September 2013 interim president Adly Mansour temporarily decreed that ministers could award contracts without a request for tender. In the next month, the government awarded building contracts worth approximately one billion dollars to the Egyptian Army. In April 2014, the interim government's Investment Law banned appeals against government contracts.
Also in September 2013, the interim government removed pre-trial detention limits for certain crimes, allowing unconvicted political dissidents to remain in detention indefinitely. In November 2013, el-Sisi's government banned protests in an attempt to combat the growing pro-Brotherhood unrest; the police arrested thousands of Egyptians using the new law.
On 24 March 2014, an Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death, following an attack on a police station in 2013, an act described by Amnesty International as "the largest single batch of simultaneous death sentences we've seen in recent years […] anywhere in the world". The BBC reported that by May 2016, approximately 40,000 people, mostly Brotherhood members or loyalists, had been imprisoned since Morsi's overthrow.
The anti-Morsi demonstrators on the streets welcomed el-Sisi's announcement of the overthrow of Morsi with celebrations and carried posters of el-Sisi, chanting "The Army and the People are one hand" and supporting General el-Sisi. On social networks, thousands of Egyptians changed their profile pictures to pictures of el-Sisi, while others started campaigns requesting that El-Sisi be promoted to the rank of field marshal, while others hoped he would be nominated in the next presidential elections.
Cupcakes, chocolate and necklaces bearing the "CC" initials were created, restaurants in Egypt named sandwiches after him, blogs shared his pictures, and columns, op-eds, television shows and interviews discussed the "new idol of the Nile valley" in the Egyptian mainstream media. On 6 December 2013, el-Sisi was named "Time Person of the Year" in Time magazine's annual reader poll. The accompanying article noted "Sisi's success reflected the genuine popularity of a man who led what was essentially a military coup in July against the democratically elected government of then President Mohammed Morsi."
The "Kamel Gemilak" (Finish Your Favor) and "El-Sisi for President" campaigns were started to gather signatures to press el-Sisi, who had said he had no desire to govern, to run for presidency. Many politicians and parties including Egyptians and non-Egyptians had announced their support for el-Sisi in the event of his running for president, including the National Salvation Front, Tamarod, Amr Moussa, a previous candidate for the presidency, Abdel-Hakim Abdel-Nasser son of late President Gamal Abdel Nasser, unsuccessful presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik, Prime Minister Hazem Al Beblawi, Naguib Sawiris, the Free Egyptians Party, the Revolutionary Forces Bloc, and the Russian president Vladimir Putin. However, Hamdeen Sabahi ran against him in the presidential race. Subsequently, Sabahi issued criticisms of Sisi and his candidacy by expressing doubt about Sisi's commitment to democracy, arguing that the general bears a measure of direct and indirect responsibility for the human rights violations carried out during the period of the interim government. He also denounced what he deemed to be the transitional government's hostility toward the goals of the revolution.
Kamel Gemilak claimed to have collected 26 million signatures asking Sisi to run for president. On 21 January 2014, Kamel Gemilak organised a mass conference call in Cairo International Stadium to call on el-Sisi to run for president. On 6 February 2014, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Seyassah claimed that el-Sisi would run for president, saying that he had to meet the wishes of the Egyptian people for him to run. El-Sisi confirmed on 26 March 2014 that he would run for president in the presidential election. Shortly after his announcement, popular hashtags were started for and against el-Sisi's presidential bid. The presidential election, which took place between 26 and 28 May 2014, saw el-Sisi win 96 percent of votes counted; it was held without the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom & Justice Party, which had won every prior post-Mubarak electoral contest.