Mohamed Farid Hegazy was installed as the Armed Forces chief of staff on Saturday night, replacing the military’s former top official Mahmoud Hegazy, who will now take up a role as a presidential advisor on strategic planning and crisis management, according to a statement issued by the Armed Forces spokesperson.
The change in the military’s leadership coincides with a reshuffle in the Interior Ministry that saw several prominent leaders depart from office. Although the reshuffle in the Interior Ministry seems a clear response to the attack in the Western Desert near the Wahat Road, 135 km outside of Giza, the reasons behind the change in military leadership are less clear.
Mohamed Farid Hegazy served as the secretary general of the Defense Ministry and secretary of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) up until Saturday, when he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and instated as chief of staff.
However, he has played a prominent role in the Armed Forces affairs dating back to the 2011 revolution, when he was the head of the Second Field Army and responsible for the security of the Suez Governorate which was the site of turmoil during the 18 days.
Farid Hegazy would later provide testimony concerning one the notable events that transpired during this period: a court case in which former President Mohamed Morsi and a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders were tried for orchestrating a large-scale prison break during the 2011 revolution. In his testimony, Hegazy stated that the Second Field Army had apprehended a number of foreign nationals believed to have been involved in the prison break, including Palestinians, who were later tried in front of military courts. However, none of these individuals was sentenced in the case.
In 2012, former President Mohamed Morsi appointed Farid Hegazy as Defense Ministry secretary general. In February 2014, Egypt’s new chief of staff was vaulted to a new position in SCAF, when interim President Adly Mansour issued Presidential Decree 20/2014 that prompted a reshuffle in the council. Under the terms of the decree, Farid Hegazy became the secretary of the council in which he had been a member since 2011.
Farid Hegazy is also known to have an interest in football, as he is the head of the Army Vanguard Sporting Club. He donated LE500,000 to the Ismailia Sporting Club in 2012, according to a local paper in the canal city.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s decision to run for president in 2014 set off a domino effect within the military hierarchy. Sisi stepped down as defense minister. Sedky Sobhy stepped in to fill his place. And Mahmoud Hegazy, the now outgoing chief of staff, took up that very position in March 2014.
The decision to appoint Hegazy as chief of staff in 2014 was controversial due to his relationship with the president, as Hegazy and Sisi are in-laws. The bond between Sisi and Hegazy extends beyond 2014, however. When Sisi left his position as head of the Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance Administration in 2012 to accept an appointment to head the Defense Ministry, he chose Hegazy to replace him.
Hegazy was born in May 1953 and graduated from the Egyptian Military Academy in 1974. He holds a master’s degree in military science from the Egyptian Command and Staff College. He has held several leading positions in the military, including defense attache in the Egyptian embassy in the United Kingdom, the head of the Western Military Zone, and the head of the Armed Forces’ Organization and Administration Authority.
Since becoming chief of staff in 2014, Hegazy has led the Egyptian Committee on Libya which was formed last year. During that time, he sought to improve the internal reconciliation in Libya. This was most apparent in the February Cairo meeting with Libyan National Army head Khalifa Haftar and the head of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj.
After both Cairo and Abu Dhabi failed to bring the two men together after their direct meeting in the UAE capital in March, Egypt’s committee on Libya, headed by Hegazy, invited a delegation from Misrata to Cairo in early July, as Egypt tried to crystalize political support for its military ally.
Mahmoud Hegazy’s removal from his position as chief of staff comes two days after his return from Washington DC, where he took part in a chief of staffs conference for countries fighting terrorism.