Egypt's Morsi Sacks Defense Minister, Chief of Staff

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Muslim Brotherhood is subtly but speedily gaining control over the Egyptian army and other institutions.

Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, is continuing to establish his authority, especially vis-à-vis the Supreme Council of Armed Forces.

Morsi's spokesman Yasser Ali announced the replacement of several senior military officers over the weekend and the cancellation of the constitutional declaration prohibiting the president from making military appointments.

At the top of Morsi's reshuffle are defense minister and military chief Hussein Tantawi and Chief of Staff Sami Anan, both required to step down.

Other officers include Vice Adm. Mohab Mamish, former commander of the Egyptian Navy, appointed president of the Suez Canal Authority -- and former Air Defense Force commander Lt. Gen. Abd El Aziz Seif-Eldeen, who will now serve as chairman of the Arab Organization for Industrialization.

Morsi tapped Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi to replace Tantawi and Gen. Sidki Sobhi to replace Anan. He also appointed Mahmoud Mekki, a judge and the brother of newly appointed Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki, as his vice president.

In addition to reshuffling military leadership, Morsi reclaimed authority over the executive and legislative branches of government. He can set public policies and sign international treaties and is authorized to form a new Constituent Assembly should the present one fail to draft a new constitution.

Morsi's decisions were "broadly welcomed by most political forces and figures," Ahramlonline reported, but two former MPs see a subtle takeover.

Mostafa Bakry and Mohamed Abou Hamed called the moves "an attempt by the Brotherhood to take control of the country," according to an edited transcript from Al-Masry Al-Youm posted on the Egypt Independent website.

"We will face the thuggery of the Brotherhood and Morsi," Abou Hamed predicted, saying the decisions reflected the Brotherhood's attempt to assume control of "all state institutions, especially after sending Tantawi and Anan to retirement and controlling the media and press."

In Monday's edition of the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote "…given the power struggles of the last few months and in light of the Brotherhood's undertakings, one can assume that in the coming weeks and months it will intensify its activity: more removals of secular newspaper editors, more Sharia-dominated legislation -- not in a belligerent way, but in a trademark Brotherhood 'amenity.'" Click here to read the analysis.

On Monday, the Muslim Brotherhood called hundreds to demonstrate at Cairo's Tahrir Square and the Presidential Palace in support of Morsi's decisions, according to media reports.

Less than a week ago, Morsi fired intelligence chief Murad Muwafi, as well as the commander of the presidential guards and the governor of northern Sinai. He also appointed new heads of security for Cairo and central security.

Those moves followed the terror attack in northern Sinai two week ago that left 16 Egyptian troops dead.

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