News / Middle East

Egypt's Morsi Orders Top Military Officers to Retire

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi swears in newly-appointed Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012.Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi swears in newly-appointed Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi swears in newly-appointed Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi swears in newly-appointed Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
CAIRO — Egypt's new President Mohamed Morsi has forced out the country's top two military officers, announcing the immediate retirement of  Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi and Army Chief of Staff Sami Annan. The move comes after growing tensions over military operations in the northern Sinai, following a recent attack by militants that killed 17 Egyptian soldiers. 
News that President Morsi had fired Defense Minister Tantawi and Army Chief of Staff Annan struck on a quiet summer afternoon as most Egyptians fasted for Ramadan.
The president's spokesman, Yasser Ali, announced replacements for the two top officers on state television. He said Morsi was also annulling constitutional amendments that gave military commanders sweeping powers.
  • The Egyptian military seized power in 1952.
  • Every leader for the past 60 years until President Mohamed Morsi has been part of the military.
  • The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ruled Egypt after Hosni Mubarak's ouster as president early last year until Mr. Morsi's election this June.
  • During that time, the military council approved a constitutional declaration granting its top commanders wide powers and scaled back presidential powers.
He said the president has named Mahmoud Mekki as his vice president, that he is ordering Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi to retire, along with Army Chief of Staff Sami Annan.
Morsi was shown on state TV swearing in his new Defense Minister, Abdel Fattah al Sissi.
The new defense minister said he swears to protect the nation and its presidential system and to respect the constitution and the law, to defend the people's interests and the borders of the country.
It was not immediately clear if the president's decision would provoke a constitutional crisis. Field Marshall Tantawi and top generals of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had given themselves powers before the presidential election that some analysts compared to a “check-and-balance” system.
The unexpected moves by the president came as tensions mounted between him and top officers of the armed forces council. Photos showed Mr. Morsi and Field Marshall Tantawi tense and unsmiling as they visited the Sinai in recent days, during a government military operation against Islamist militants.
Essam Elarian, the head of President Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party, said Egyptians have been “dreaming of a fair democratic system for more than 60 years.” The Egyptian military seized power in 1952 and every leader until Morsi has belonged to it.
Defense Minister Tantawi was named to the post by former President Hosni Mubarak in 1991. A former US ambassador to Egypt once described him as “Mubarak's poodle,” according to a document leaked by the website Wikileaks.
It was not immediately clear how the Egyptian army would react to the president's decision to relieve the top commanders, or if the country's top court might attempt to reverse the decisions.

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Comment Sorting
by: J B from: USA
August 14, 2012 4:50 PM
Effectively the Hindis have supplanted one repulsive system of what they call a democracy with an even more repellent hindi style rule... Indians... what a joke

would you like some curry with your dimmmokrrrracyyyy siiiiirrrrr??? (shaking head side to side)

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 13, 2012 7:39 AM
The die is cash; the stage is set. The action is about to start. Morsi is about to unleash himself on Egyptians. Now we are going to find out the stuff he's made of. This action was expected, but not too soon, just not as soon as it came. Goes to show how urgent Morsi wants to return Egypt to the days of the Shah and Nebukadnedzar. Next will be the issuance of a decree. What to expect in that decree? Watch and see. I can only reveal that it won't look different from what obtains in Iran and the Arab world - and the motto: Arab Spring devaluation of human rights.

by: Rahimi from: Kabul/Afghanistan
August 13, 2012 5:30 AM
i would like to congratulate this victory to all Ugandan people. Basically, the victory and proud of this gold medal goes to all Ugandan nation.

by: Mahmoud Heshla from: Egypt
August 13, 2012 2:53 AM
Millions are in the streets of Egypt supporting president Morsi's decision , Here is Egypt back to civil government again as it was 60 years ago .

by: Malek Towghi/Tauqee from: USA
August 12, 2012 8:30 PM
It will be easier for historians and Egyptian people to give credit or discredit for pluses or minuses if there is only one ruling institution. The Sunni Islamists of Egypt now have a chance to demonstrate -- through a radical reinterpretation of the Quran & the Sunnah -- that their political Islam is compatible not only to the unchanging realities of our world -- the existence of Israel being one --but also to the unspoken aspirations of the suffering Muslim masses. During the 23 years of Muhammad's 'missionary' life CHANGEs did happen in the Quran and his Sunnah (unfortunately from good/ok to worse). Why not make this principle of POSSIBILITY /JUSTIFICATION of CHANGE -- and the principle of MASLAHAH of the society and RECOGNITION of 'URF as considered and done by some medieval fuqaha (jurists)-- the bases for the much-needed reconstruction of the Shari'ah??? Another point to be considered is the fact that the Sunni Shari'a in its details was 'canonized' centuries after Muhammad's death and was never practiced in totality by Muslims.

Personally, I am not so optimistic particularly thinking of the Sunni Islam. Yet, this is a stage the Muslim society has to pass before hoping for a Mass Rushdite Intellectual Revolution -- to call the humbug a humbug.

I hope my country, the US, and the ultra 'politically corrects' of the West will not again sabotage and frustrate this evolutionary process by allying themselves with the Sunni Islam for ephemeral gains (as they seem to be doing in Syria) or just out of ignorance and stupidity.

by: Sunita Chadry from: India
August 12, 2012 4:47 PM
effectively the Egyptians have supplanted one repulsive Military Dictator with an even more repellent Islamic Dictator... Arabs... what a joke

would you like some Humus with your dimookracy???

by: Mahmud Sulieman from: Egypt
August 12, 2012 4:17 PM
i don't know where this leads... but let me tell you that Egyptian are buying guns from Libya and Gaza. Terrorist groups move from the Sinai to Cairo and Alexandria with the blessings of Mursi and the Islamic Brotherhood - wake up America - this is not good

by: Dona Lynn Brown from: USA
August 12, 2012 3:25 PM
hey, haven't we seen it before...? remember Turkey used to be a westernized country... now its in the grip of Islamic forces that vilify western values to a point where it has become a Terrorist state just like Iran Lebanon Pakistan...
you want to know the future of Egypt - look to Hamas... Hizbolla... al Qaida... well, we have such an incompetent president... I guess the trend will continue

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