Morsi Forces Out Top Military Leaders
Morsi also nullified a constitutional declaration by the military which stripped power away from the presidential office and gave the military the right to pass laws. The move has been hailed by some as a reclamation of the political power annexed by the the military during its time in power.
Among those sacked was Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, leader of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the military junta which ran Egypt from the time Mubarak fell in 2011 until Morsi's election eariler this year.
There has been no response from the military over the firings, raising speculation the silence signaled the security council's acquiescence to a civillian transfer of power, a departure from its rhetoric over the past 18 months.
"There's been a very clear implicit message until now that the army is not going to turn over all the keys of power to the [Muslim Brotherhood]," said Michael Wahid Hanna, a fellow at The Century Foundation in New York. "And now that they've made the ultimate power play there hasn't been a response."
Egypt's elected parliament was dissolved by the courts earlier this year, raising concerns that the courts are the only authority left to balance Morsi's power. From the Christian Science Monitor:
In many ways, the move is a simple assertion of civilian authority over the generals, something the US has been urging for the past year-and-a-half. But a politically-neutered army, if that's what has just happened, is not exactly what the US is interested in, given the Muslim Brotherhood's stance towards Israel, particularly given that Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, is an offshoot of the organization.
This was the latest shake-up since the Aug. 5 attack which left 16 soldiers dead in the Sinai peninsula. Morsi fired the intelligence chief on Wednesday after Egyptian media revealed the chief had failed to act on warnings from Israel that an attack was imminent. The debacle provided Morsi with an opportunity to assert his authority over military power.
Mohammed Aboul-Ghar, a founder of the new Egyptian Social Democratic Party, blamed the military's losing political battle on their failure to secure a smooth transition to democracy.
"The military council was forced out of power and lost its position and this was inevitable," he said. "In the power struggle, the military council was increasingly weakened because of its decisions."
After announcing the firings, Morsi made an appearance to award money to young Muslims who had memorized the Quran by heart. Morsi may have won the political, as well as the public relations truggle against the military, according to the Associated Press:
Morsi was able to take the higher moral ground since taking office as an elected leader, while Tantawi and his generals on the SCAF continued to be vilified by rights groups for mismanaging the transitional period and accused of human rights violations, such as killing protesters, torturing detainees and hauling before military tribunals at least 12,000 civilians.
Morsi also announced Sunday that a senior judge, Mahmoud Mekki, would serve as his vice-president.
Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of the transition of power in Egypt.
Reach Executive Producer Dawn Megli here.