Has Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Staged a Coup Against the Military?

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From left: Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy and armed-forces chief Sami Anan are seen in Cairo. Morsy recently fired both men

It would seem that Mohamed Morsy is on a roll. Less than a week after sacking several major security chiefs, the first elected President in Egypt’s history has moved on to tackle the big guns. On Sunday, Morsy fired Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the country’s Defense Minister and powerful chief of Egypt’s military council, with whom the President has been locked in a power struggle since he took office at the end of June. Perhaps no more.

Along with Tantawi, who in the 18 months since the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak has reigned as the most powerful man in Egypt, Morsy sacked his chief of staff, Sami Anan. He fired the head of every service of the armed forces and nullified the June constitutional decree that Tantawi and Anan’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had released to seize more power for itself. Morsy also appointed a much anticipated Vice President: Mahmoud Mekki, a prominent reformist judge.

If all that comes as a shock to many Egyptians — the Ramadan-subdued streets of Cairo flickering to life with murmurs of excitement shortly after the announcement — it wasn’t a shock to everyone. That includes the military council. General Mohamed al-Assar, a ranking member of SCAF, told al-Jazeera that Tantawi and Anan’s dismissal came through consultation with Morsy. Analysts say that’s because there was a deal involved. “I think the deal is [Tantawi and Anan] get a safe exit, and they hand the country to the Muslim Brotherhood,” says Mamdouh Hamza, a prominent businessman and pro-democracy advocate. “Because quite honestly, if we apply the same law [to the generals] that we applied to Mubarak’s family, Tantawi would be behind bars.”

(PHOTOS: Mohamed Morsy Declared Egypt’s First Islamist President)

The notion that immunity may have been exchanged for power troubled some of the country’s liberal youth as well, even as many other Egyptians flocked to Cairo’s Tahrir Square to celebrate what appeared to be the end of an era. “Morsy clearly won’t prosecute any murderers or torturers,” quipped Gigi Ibrahim, a young activist, on Twitter, following the announcement.

But the bigger picture is this, Hamza says: the reshuffle plays into the broader strategy of Morsy’s powerful Islamist alma mater, the Muslim Brotherhood, which most analysts agree is still calling the shots in the presidential kitchen. “They are the only ones in the kitchen, 100%,” says Hamza. “In fact, Morsy might only be the coffee boy in the kitchen.”

Long the only significant challenge to Mubarak’s 30-year rule, the Muslim Brotherhood emerged from last year’s uprising primed to become the largest political force. Its representatives won the lion’s share of parliament; and ultimately, it took the presidency too.

Sunday’s shift marks Morsy’s boldest move yet to reclaim power from the country’s powerful military council. But it follows a similar reshuffle last week in Egypt’s security sector, which included the ousting of an old regime ally, Mourad Mwafi, from the head of the country’s General Intelligence Service. The replacements in the security sector, and indeed in the military, all serve a purpose in the broader scheme of things, analysts say. “The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t do anything off the cuff. Everything is according to plan and may be known for a few months before,” Hamza says.

(MORE: Sinai Border Attack: What’s Behind the Unrest in Egypt’s Rogue Province)

Tantawi’s replacement, Abdel Fatah el-Sissi, is rumored to be a deeply religious man — perhaps the closest thing on the council to a Brotherhood ally. The new Vice President, Mekki, a top judge, was an early — but secret — Brotherhood pick for the presidency, according to Mohamed Soudan, a high-ranking Brotherhood official in Alexandria.

Along with Morsy’s newly appointed Justice Minister, Mekki will be a valuable asset as the country moves forward in drafting a new constitution. And according to Robert Springborg, an expert on the Egyptian military and a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in California: for every new hire — perhaps regardless of origin — Morsy and the Brotherhood gain an ally. “It’s Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood who appointed them,” he says. “So their political careers are dependent on Morsy.”

Indeed, that may also be true for the new editors in chief of the country’s state newspapers — appointed last week by the Brotherhood-dominated upper house of parliament, the Shura Council.

The Brotherhood, analysts say, is slowly and deliberately arranging Egypt’s political chessboard. “They had to make sure that the media is in their hands and that the army is under their control before they go and make major changes in the Ministry of Justice and in the justice system,” says Hamza. “The next step will be the new constitution.”

The bold moves, particularly Morsy’s annulment of the military council’s June addendum to Egypt’s constitution — which had granted the military full legislative and certain executive powers — raises some questions of legality, experts say.

(MORE: How the Military Won the Egyptian Election)

“It’s extralegal,” says one foreign NGO worker in Cairo, who has charted similar declarations by the military over the past 18 months. Morsy didn’t nullify all of SCAF’s decrees — only the aspects that hindered presidential power. Whereas the military had, in June, claimed full legislative authority following the Supreme Court’s dissolution of the parliament, Morsy now claims legislative control for himself. He also seized the right — from the generals — to dissolve and replace the committee tasked with drafting Egypt’s new constitution, if the committee is somehow “prevented from doing its duties,” the state-backed Ahram Online news website reported.

Egypt’s powerful generals have largely ignored Egyptian law ever since they issued their first constitutional decree in February 2011, two days after Mubarak stepped down, the NGO official points out: “So why can’t Morsy do it too?” Last February, SCAF suspended Egypt’s 1971 constitution. “They did this to legitimize their own power,” the official adds, because the constitution had stipulated that in the absence of a President, power be handed to the head of parliament or the head of the Supreme Court. Tantawi and his generals had ensured that wouldn’t happen.

But now Morsy may be following in their footsteps. The Islamist President appears — “on paper” at least — to have suddenly amassed “dictatorial powers,” writes Issandr El Amrani, a regional analyst, on his popular blog, the Arabist. For a country still struggling to shrug off the entrenched influence of its military after more than half a century of military rule, that might not be such a terrible thing, El Amrani and other analysts note. Hamza says it’s an important first step in dismantling a junta; if Morsy can remove the military from business and the public sector too, Egypt will be on its way to success, he says. But there’s no telling just how the President and the Brotherhood will move next. As for the paradigm shift and the new powers it seems to entail, says El Amrani: “It will largely come down to how he uses them.”

— With reporting by Caroline Kolta / Cairo

MORE: Egypt’s Morsy Walks a Political Minefield in Sinai Crisis

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Muhammad Khizir Farooqi
Muhammad Khizir Farooqi

Prophet MUHAMMAD in his last sermon had said "O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether

after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to

what I am saying to you very carefully and TAKE THESE WORDS TO THOSE WHO

COULD NOT BE PRESENT HERE TODAY. O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as

Sacred, so regard the life and property of every one as a sacred

trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt

no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet

your LORD, and that HE will indeed reckon your deeds.O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to

your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have

taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His

permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right

to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind

to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority

over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a

white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over

white except by piety and good action. Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer your

deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am

gone. I am sure Muhamad Morsy is aware of the fact that he is

responsible amp; answerable for all his deeds amp; decisions when he

appears before ALLAH. I request his or Muslim Brotherhood's critics to

give him some time to see the positive result which is the needs of the

day for all of us whether in the East or the West.Read more: http://world.time.com/2012/08/...

Muhammad Khizir Farooqi
Muhammad Khizir Farooqi

Prophet MUHAMMAD in his last sermon had said "O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether

after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to

what I am saying to you very carefully and TAKE THESE WORDS TO THOSE WHO

COULD NOT BE PRESENT HERE TODAY. O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as

Sacred, so regard the life and property of every one as a sacred

trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt

no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet

your LORD, and that HE will indeed reckon your deeds.O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to

your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have

taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His

permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right

to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind

to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority

over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a

white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over

white except by piety and good action. Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer your

deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am

gone. I am sure Muhamad Morsy is aware of the fact that he is responsible amp; answerable for all his deeds amp; decisions when he appears before ALLAH. I request his or Muslim Brotherhood's critics to give him some time to see the positive result which is the needs of the day for all of us whether in the East or the West.

William Palumbo
William Palumbo

Time doesn't get it.  No surprise given their Editor-at-Large is a confirmed plagiarist.  Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, Qatar, Mali, and soon Syria will all be under Brotherhood (i.e. ISI) rule.  Egypt on its way to becoming a narco state.

Meanwhile, Huma, Dalia, and Jarret remain unphased, if not complicit.  It's out in the open now.  Dawood celebrates and we remain blind.

jschmidt2
jschmidt2

The Brotherhood will set Egypt back hundreds of years. and further damage the middle east. Israel is getting surrounded by enemies and the US is their only ally except Obama doesn't it see it that way.

zen
zen

This is the direct fault of B. Hussein Obama and Hillary who badmouthed the previous government WITHOUT A BETTER IDEA IN PLACE.  And the sycophantic media who danced happily to the wondrous ARAB SPRING.  Idiots all!

zen
zen

Time, Newsweek, NYT, the Washington Post, CNN, ABC, NBC, BBC, PBS.

You all, along with Hussein Obama, wished for your Arab Spring, fools all. 

The media, and the Democrats turned out to be the neo-neo-cons.

Colonel_Green
Colonel_Green

What exactly is "neo-neo-conservative" about allowing Egyptians to choose their own government? They didn't bring down Mubarak (indeed, they clearly would have preferred him to stay), they just let him be brought down by his own people when it became clear they wouldn't tolerate military dictatorship anymore.

gwbnyc
gwbnyc

Did anyone short of a complete imbecile think the moslem brotherhood would do anything other than what they have done?

That's no coup- it's business as usual, and we're yet another leap towards the middle east being the totally backward medieval latrine one can imagine it being.

tpaine1
tpaine1

The "Arab Spring" is quickly turning into "Springtime with Hitler" for Israel.  Who lost Egypt?  Obama, Clinton and the Democrat controlled Senate.

Colonel_Green
Colonel_Green

How did Obama, Clinton, and the Democrat controlled Senate (the House didn't come into this, I take it) "lose" Egypt?  It was never theirs to begin with.

Bonus points for spouting anti-democratic rhetoric with the user name "tpaine", which I gather is an allusion to the radical anti-dictatorial political theorist Thomas Paine.

tpaine1
tpaine1

I refer you back to Obama's "Cairo Speech" which roundly lamblasted Murbarak thus signaling to the Muslim Brotherhood (whom I assume you believe to be "the good guys") that he no longer had America's support.

The larger point is Obama and the Democrats (the Senate confirms treaties, not the House), cost us and Israel an ally and replaced it with another islamic extremist regime like Iran.

You ever really read Thomas Paine?  I would not have come up with that description of him EVER.

Colonel_Green
Colonel_Green

Why would you think Obama's Cairo speech would lead to the Egyptian government being overthrown?  The populace doesn't care whether the US backs their government, in fact, it often just adds to their dislike.  Mubarak was overthrown because of the fall of the Tunisian regime, which was caused by economic realities and decades of simmering political discontent.  It's laughable if you think that Egyptians were just waiting for Obama's permission get rid of their tyrants (and rather alarming that you think the US has the right to arbitrate such matters, rather than the Egyptian people, the only legitimate authority on how they will be governed).

Yes, I have. Thomas Paine's response to Edmund Burke was a defense of the French Revolution and the right of people to overthrow their governments (Burke's ideas wouldn't really apply all that well to Egypt, anyway, since Mubarak's regime was only 30 years old, and Burke's ideas relied heavily on the weight of history). A great reason why he was such a radical figure in his day.

tpaine1
tpaine1

And when was it that "it became clear that the Egyptian populace wasn't going to stand for a military tyranny anymore?"  Before or after Obama's "Cairo speech."

Yes, but you didn't answer the question.  Have YOU read Thomas Paine's writings?  He amplified Burke's writings is why I asked.

Colonel_Green
Colonel_Green

I don't particularly care for the Brotherhood, but the White House only backed away from Mubarak after it became clear that the Egyptian populace wasn't going to stand for a military tyranny anymore.  Even then they tried to suggest blatantly unsuitable "transition figures" like Mubarak's torture-happy vice president.  It was Egypt's people who changed the government; Obama's only significant contribution, such as it was, was letting Mubarak know that he would lose US support if he began massacring his opponents.

Thomas Paine, author of "Common Sense" and "The Rights of Man", among others, defender of people's right to choose their own governments and opponent of tyrannies?  Intellectual godfather of the American Revolution, participant in the French Revolution, who thoroughly debunked Edmund Burke's apologia for the ancien regime? I don't know where you get the idea that he would favour a military dictatorship over a democratically chosen president (he would undoubtedly critique Morsi too, not least for his religious beliefs, but that's not the same as endorsing Mubarak or his means for staying in office).

Essam Abdalla
Essam Abdalla

Here is how I think it happened.The Prince of Qatar showes up in Cairo for a couple of hours with big bags full of mony,wth an offer for Tantawi:take the money and go away,or stay and face the ire an disgust of the Egyptian people.Of course it was a no brainer for the greedy,corrupt ,Mubarak-loyalist old generl(77 years old,and army commander since 1997).

I think Tantawy was looking for a safe way out,but because of his greed,he'd not leave empty handed,and here came the role of Qatar which contains a sizable group of rich Egyptian brothers who fled there to escape Mubarak's repression.

Brian Gibson
Brian Gibson

Essam Abdalla, Look at the news reports in relations to Tantawani and Enan, they have not gone away, but simply changed position as Advisors to Morsi. In other words, they will be the puppet masters, and Morsi will be the puppet. They will have direct controll of the office of presidency.

ClawhammerJake
ClawhammerJake

“Morsy clearly won’t prosecute any murderers or torturers,”

... and who does that sound like in this country?

Khagaraj
Khagaraj

If this move by Morsy  proves to be effective,the Muslim Brotherhood would have successfully used ,as expected by many, the so-called Arab Spring for their own advantage.MB can now spread to the Arab League autocracies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.And Morsy could increase pressure on the U.S to release the blind sheik and some of the Guantanmo prisoners.The U.S is currently paying $ 1.5 billion to the Egyptian military.Morsy's bill could be steeper than this.Democracy does not come cheap these days !

Essential Intel
Essential Intel

Globalists activate trilateral plan for Islamist coup in Egypt following Salafist proxy attack on Egypt-Israel-Hamastan border triangle. Muslim Brotherhood stooge and former USC Proffesor Mohamed Morsi sacks the Military Junta, undermines Sinai demilitarization on behalf of Langley, in an effort to disrupt Israeli preparations for preemptive strike on Genocidal Mullahs in Iran. 

Full analysis here :

http://essential-intelligence-...

thefleur
thefleur

Terribly fear-stoking headline. 

I seriously doubt the people (of ALL faiths) went through the misery and drama to unseat the Mubarak just to see an oppressive Theocracy or Military Junta replace it.

I think and hope for a free and well run Parliamentary Republic for Egypt. 

Let's give them some time to craft it at least!