In a surprise and shocking announcement Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi fired the armed forces head and Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi. The new defense minister is Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
Tantawi had served for decades under former President Mubarak as defense minister. He was also chair of the ruling military council SCAF that has ruled Egypt for the last 17 months. The chief of staff of the military Sami Enan has also been forced into retirement. An Al Jazeera correspondent said:
"There will be a lot of questions asked, especially if Morsi is able to do this..In the coming hours, we will find out how this decision came about. All of this has happened very fast, and it was unexpected."
There are also reports that Morsi has canceled the military-declared constitutional amendments that gave great powers to the generals.
These developments come just days after Morsi together with Tantawi forced head of intelligence Major General Murad Muwafi into retirement after a militant attack killed 16 guards at a Sinai border crossing with Egypt. Maj. General Abdul Mabrouk governor of North Sinai province was fired as well.
President Morsi has reorganized the Interior Ministry. He appointed Maj. Gen. Hamed Zaki to command the Republican Guard and Major General Mustafa Kamel as head of Central Security Forces. This reorganization was apparently carried out with the cooperation of Tantawi. Now Tantawi too is gone. Something is brewing in Cairo. Relations between Morsi and the military have alternated between almost open conflict and behind the scenes deals. Relations seem to be now in the conflict stage.