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The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which ruled Egypt for 17 months after Mubarak was forced out, stripped the presidency of many of its key powers before it handed the office to Morsi. Tantawi was the head of the SCAF and Annan was No. 2. Tantawi was also Mubarak’s defense minister for two decades before the regime was ousted.
Days before Morsi’s inauguration, the SCAF decreed constitutional amendments that gave them the power to legislate after they dissolved parliament, as well as control over the national budget. It also gave them control over the process of drafting a new constitution. The generals had put themselves in charge of all defense and foreign policy, including the appointment of the defense minister.
With his latest move, Morsi reclaimed the powers taken from him, seizing back sole control of the constitution drafting process, the national budget and the right to issue laws.
The two men appointed to replace the top military commanders were also members of the SCAF — something that could indicate either the military’s agreement to the shuffle or splits at the highest level of the armed forces. Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi replaced Tantawi and Lt. Gen. Sidki Sayed Ahmed replaced Annan.
Morsi may have tapped into divisions and the generation gap within the top echelons of the military. Tantawi is 76 and he was in that job for more than 20 years. His replacement, former military intelligence El-Sissi, is 58.
Egypt’s first civilian president acted at a moment when the military was humiliated over a major security failure in Sinai. Several days before the killings, Israel warned that an attack was imminent. The intelligence chief was sacked after it emerged in Egyptian media that he knew of the Israeli warning but did not act.
Sinai has been plunged into lawlessness and the rest of the country has seen a sharp deterioration in security while the military ruled following Mubarak’s ouster.
The military has a vast economic empire that accounts for about 25 percent of GDP. But it was tainted in the 17 months the SCAF ran the country, accused of mismanaging the transitional period and committing human rights violations.
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