“Foreign-backed” groups are attempting to destroy the morale of the army, said Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), during a military parade Sunday.
The armed forces would not allow anyone to "marginalise" any Egyptian citizen from the political process, he added.
"In the past, the armed forces have faced and defeated a visible enemy, such as in the 1973 October War, with the support of the Egyptian people. However, it was easier than the situation now, as we have foreign entities trying to discourage the armed forces from its determination to protect Egypt and its people, but we will never allow them to succeed," Tantawi said.
His statements came during US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Egypt, which ends Sunday evening. They also come in the context of mounting criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood over its alleged connections with the US.
Tantawi met Clinton Sunday morning, the two set to discuss — according to diplomatic sources — US military aid to Egypt, which has become increasingly controversial amid US Senate pressure to increase conditionality clauses on aid to Egypt.
Last week, newly-inaugurated Islamist President Mohamed Morsi revoked by decree SCAF's decision to dissolve the People’s Assembly, based on a ruling by the High Constitutional Court that deemed the law governing November’s parliamentary elections unconstitutional.
Morsi's decree spurred fears of a clash between the Muslim Brotherhood and SCAF, which withdrew from the presidency a number of prerogatives in its June addendum to the Constitutional Declaration. SCAF also assumed parliament’s legislative powers until new elections are held, and gave itself the right to dismantle the Constituent Assembly — tasked with drafting the new constitiution — if it failed to perform its duties.
The addendum to the Constitutional Declaration was met with vociferous criticism by most revolutionary political groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party gained almost half the seats in parliament in November's elections.