WASHINGTON – The US has yet to officially respond to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's dramatic decision to retire the country's top military officers, but government officials said they were confident the Pentagon and Egypt's new military leadership would be able to cooperate.
According to the Washington Post, the US' view is that the replacement of aging top military leaders isn’t worrying.
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Columnist David Ignatius quoted American officials as saying that Morsi's move is in part a generational change, and that the military officials who were replaced had become increasingly unpopular and isolated in post-revolutionary Egypt.
Egyptian's celebrate Tantawi's dismissal (Photo: AFP)
The US officials denied rumors that new Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi is an Islamist with secret ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. On the contrary, they said he is well known to the US military after spending a year of professional training in the US and was regarded as a generally effective head of military intelligence.
"What’s indisputable is that the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi is a longtime member, has now tightened its grip on Egypt, controlling the military as well as the presidency and the parliament," Ignatius wrote.
"That’s either an example of democracy in action and civilian control of the military, or a Muslim Brotherhood putsch, depending on your viewpoint. It probably has elements of both."
According to the Washington Post columnist, US officials don’t appear to have evidence that the purge was planned by the Muslim Brotherhood's top leadership. Instead, Morsi used the terror attack in Sinai last week, which killed 16 Egyptian soldiers, as an excuse for installing new leadership in the military.
Ignatius said the US was not concerned by the replacement of aging top military leaders, but it would be worried if Morsi moved to make changes in Egypt’s judiciary, which has been an "important independent center of power" since the Tahrir Square revolution that deposed Mubarak in February 2011.
The columnist said concerns about the judiciary were prompted on Sunday when Morsi appointed senior judge Mahmoud Mekki as vice president. The fear is that Mekki, as a former jurist, might reject rulings by the courts, Ignatius said.