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Egypt’s President Removes Military Chiefs In a Surprise Move

Egypt’s President Removes Military Chiefs In a Surprise Move

On Sunday, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi ordered the retirement of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who had served in the post for twenty years and was a key ally of deposed leader Hosni Mubarak. Tantawi had been the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the military council that had served as Egypt’s interim leader before Morsi’s election, and had just been reappointed as defense minister. Also ordered to retired was Army Chief of Staff Sami Hafez Anan, who had been thought to be Tantawi’s successor, and the chiefs of the navy, the air force and the air defense branch.

Morsi also annulled a constitutional declaration issued by the SCAF on June 30– the day before he took office — that had granted the generals legislative powers and budgetary controls, as well as oversight in drawing up a new constitution.

Egypt’s military has so far shown no sign of opposing Morsi’s decision, which reportedly surprised the country and “transformed [Morsi's] image overnight from a weak leader to a savvy politician who carefully timed his move against generals.” Egypt’s state media announced that the shake-up was “done in cooperation and after consultations with the armed forces.”

Morsi chose younger officers from the military council to replace the 76-year-old Tantawi and Anan, which may suggest that he had made some sort of deal with them. Selected to head military intelligence is Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, whose name surfaced last year when he admitted to Amnesty International that the military had performed “virginity tests” on female protesters. El-Sisi’s defense for the policy was that it was intended to “protect” soldiers from allegations of rape and that the tests would be stopped.

The removal of Tantawi is especially noteworthy as he was seen as a symbol of the military’s continued attempt to hold onto power after the ousting of Mubarak. Morsi’s announcement followed an attack on the Sinai last week by militants that left sixteen Egyptian solders dead, says the BBC’s Yolande Knell.

Writer and journalist Wael Eskander suggested that, with demonstrations against Morsi’s party, the Muslim Brotherhood, planned for August 24, the “military shakeup prompted speculation that Morsi was fearful of the possibility of a coup.”

Another BBC correspondent, Kevin Connolly, noted that the “dismissal of senior military officers will be seen by Egyptians as a decisive move in a struggle for real power” between newly elected politicians and the generals who have been in command for years.

Questions remain about Morsi’s constitutional powers to act. On Sunday, he also appointed Mahmoud Mekki, a senior judge who fought for judicial independence under Mubarak, as vice president. But Gaber Nassar, a professor of constitutional law at Cairo University, told the New York Times that Morsi had the right to abolish the SCAF’s declaration; a retired brigadier general, Ayman Salama, also told the the BBC that Morsi had acted correctly.

Crowds gathered in Tahrir Square to express support for Morsi’s moves with people chanting “the people support the president’s decision” and “Marshal, tell the truth, did Morsi fire you?”.

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6:11PM PST on Nov 28, 2012

(continued)


Some of those flocking to the plaza had been opposed to Morsi from the beginning. “I was always wary of the Muslim Brotherhood,” one young man wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt told me. “I never wanted to see our society being run by a bunch of religious people. But they were more organized that we secular folks were, and they outmaneuvered us.” Others had no problem with Morsi or the Muslim Brotherhood until this latest power grab. “I didn’t vote for Morsi but I supported him as the duly elected president in a process that I considered the first free and fair election in my lifetime,” said Ahmed Mafouz, a 50-year-old engineer who was in the square with his wife. “But this move makes me think that he wants to become another Mubarak, and I just can’t let that happen.”

While many in the square were chanting “Morsi must go,” Mafouz was more moderate in his demands. “I don’t say that he has to leave power, but he has to rescind this decree that would give him dictatorial powers, and show that he will represent all the people, not just one sector,” said Mafouz. ...

6:08PM PST on Nov 28, 2012

(continued)

Morsi’s declaration was a complicated one, as it included some positive things for Egypt’s revolutionaries. It removed the unpopular Prosecutor General who was a Mubarak-era holdover and opened up the possibility for the retrial of recently acquitted officials implicated in violence against demonstrators. But outrage was sparked by the proviso that all presidential decisions be immune from judicial review until the adoption of a new constitution.

The president’s insistence that this measure was merely temporary was not reassuring, especially to many of the nation’s lawyers. “This is not about whether you like or trust Morsi; it’s about basic democratic values. We can’t allow a precedent that puts inordinate powers in the hands of a single individual and relieves him of all judicial oversight,” said Cairo attorney Khalid Hussein.

The opposition mobilized immediately. Some headed straight to Tahrir Square to begin a camp out and on Tuesday, merely five days after the decree had been issued, the people responded with a mass mobilization.

Some of those flocking to the plaza had been opposed to Morsi from the beginning. “I was always wary of the Muslim Brotherhood,” one young man wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt told me. “I never wanted to see our society being run by a bunch of religious people. But they were more organized that we secular folks were, and they outmaneuvered us.” Others had no problem

6:07PM PST on Nov 28, 2012

(continued)

Ramah was one of the hundreds of thousands of people filling Tahrir Square to protest the decree issued five days earlier by President Morsi giving himself power to make decisions that could not be challenged by the judiciary.

The decree came just one day after the November 22 Gaza ceasefire agreement between the Israeli government and Hamas, an agreement brokered by Morsi that sent his international prestige skyrocketing. Perhaps the president deemed this a good time to make a move. After all, the transitional process had been dragging on for almost two years and Morsi found himself in pitched battles with both the judiciary branch and his political opponents. The democratically elected lower house of parliament and the first constitution-drafting committee had been dissolved by court orders, and there was speculation that the courts would soon try to disband the upper house of parliament and the Constituent Assembly, the body that is writing the nation’s new constitution. There has also been considerable political opposition to the Constituent Assembly. Many accused Morsi of stacking it with Islamists who had no expertise in constitutional law, leading a number of members to withdraw in protest.

Morsi’s declaration was a complicated one, as it included some positive things for Egypt’s revolutionaries. It removed the unpopular Prosecutor General who was a Mubarak-era holdover and opened up the possibility for the retrial of recently acquit

6:04PM PST on Nov 28, 2012

I'm reading rather a different story here, regarding the sentiment of the crowds, although I expect different crowds, different sentiments, different days?

http://www.alternet.org/world/life-or-death-moment-revolution-egyptians-erupt-fury-against-brazen-power-grab?paging=off

World
AlterNet / By Medea Benjamin

'Life or Death' Moment for the Revolution: Egyptians Erupt in Fury Against Brazen Power Grab
Egyptian protesters have gathered in Tahrir Square after a decree that said all presidential decisions would be immune from judicial review until the adoption of a new constitution.
November 28, 2012 |


Ramah Casers is an Egyptian mother and graphic designer who lives in Cairo. On Tuesday, November 27 she was standing at the entrance to Tahrir Square holding a simple, hand-written sign that read, “I am an Egyptian citizen and I will not let my country become a dictatorship once again.” She had come to the plaza with her young daughter, who was proudly helping to hold the sign. “I was in this same Tahrir Square during the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak but I haven’t been back since then,” Ramah told me. “I didn’t think any of the mobilizations called during the last two years were that critical. But for this one, I had to be here. This is about the life or death of our revolution.”

Ramah was one of the hundreds of thousands of people filling Tahrir Square to protest the decree issued five days earlier by Pr

3:16AM PST on Nov 25, 2012

So, another tyrant megalomaniac is born. He thinks he is invincible. Time will tell us otherwise.

3:14AM PST on Nov 25, 2012

So, another tyrant megalomaniac is born. He thinks he is invincible. Time will tell us otherwise.

3:14AM PST on Nov 25, 2012

So, another tyrant megalomaniac is born. He thinks he is invincible. Time will tell us otherwise.

12:58PM PST on Nov 24, 2012

I thought democracy means the rule of the majority, so now the majority happened to be the Muslim brotherhood supporters, any problems? Why all this wining from the so-called liberals who advocate hatred for Islamic values and Shariah law? Whats wrong with Shariah? I think it is better than Satanism, better than cruel financial capitalism, better than communism, better than Zionism, better than Christo-Eurpoean racism. Shariah is perhaps what the rogue Western World needs to fix its drunken-driving problems, its nonsense fight over abortion and anti-abortion, its unfair economical system which caters for the super-super rich and oppresses the poor, its inadequate education and health care system which produces generations of idiots and maniac consumers. Wake up bigots and at least educate yourself about the majestic history of Islam and its intellectual and human contributions to mankind. I am sad to know that the victims of dictatorships that lingered over our heads like a hanging sword for many decades are the ones who are uttering this nonsense. Some are still deceived by the Western model as their ideal when the it has become clear that the Western version of democracy has been the biggest lie ever told and promoted. That's why we have economical crash in the West, unprecedented crime rate and skyrocketing prison populations, teenage pregnancy and delinquency. deterioration of middle class and the rise of dictatorship, the confiscation of domestic liberties, the war and c

4:36AM PDT on Sep 13, 2012

thank you

5:18PM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

WOW, Gillian!

Thanks,

Beth

Since someone removed my remarks the first time.....

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