By NVONews.Com International Correspondent,
Cairo: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s Sunday decision to clip the wings of the army has generally been welcomed by politicians––several of them even opposed to Muslim Brotherhood––as well as academics though there is no dearth of people who were surprised by it. Not only that some legal experts even questioned its legitimacy.
In a move which is likely to have a far reaching impact he retired––an euphemism for dismissal–– the chief of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) Hussein Tantawi, 76, and chief of army staff, Sami Anan, 64. The President also terminated the June 18 constitutional addendum. He also appoint a new vice-president––reformist judge Mahmoud Mekki.
According to presidential spokesman Yasser Ali: “Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi has been transferred into retirement from today.” In his place as armed forces chief and defence minister, Morsi appointed General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, 57, from military intelligence.
Anan was replaced General Sidki Sobhi, 56, who headed the Third Field Army based in Suez, on the border with Sinai.
The two who have been retired were appointed as advisers to the President.
Morsi had reportedly consulted Tantawi and General Anan before ordering their removal. However, their reactions could not be known.
Political analysts are of the view that though Morsi was waiting to assert and get rid of another power centre the killing of 16 Egyptian soldiers near country’s border with Israel on August 5 hastened its pace.
First Morsi last week replaced the intelligence chief Murad Muwafi after the August 5 failure. He also removed the governor of North Sinai.
Ever since he took over on July 1 after Muslim Brotherhood’s victory it was quite evident that the two power centres can not work for long. But that the army top brass would be removed so soon was somewhat unexpected.
In any country where big political change or revolution comes with the help of ballots such assertion by elected government can not be ruled out.
Something similar happened in Turkey where too the much powerful army was cut to size by the Islamic government, but that was done somewhat gradually. The situation in Egypt was rather different because it saw the first elected non-army government in 60 years.
Now with the hand picked-men at the top Morsi can easily take his own decision and exercise his authority. Though many secular opposition welcomed the decision what they fear is the gradual tightening of control of Bortherhood over the system.
But Morsi clarified later: “The decisions I took today were not meant ever to target certain persons, nor did I intend to embarrass institutions, nor was my aim to narrow freedoms.
“I did not mean to send a negative message about anyone, but my aim was the benefit of this nation and its people,” he said.
Morsi also praised the work of the armed forces by saying his decision would free them to focus on their professional tasks.
The latest development is being watched closely by the West and Israel as the Egyptian Army was still considered friendly. Anan was, in particular, soft towards Pentagon.