Egypt’s new defense minister has retired 70 army generals and removed other members of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) into retirement, al-Shorouk newspaper reported Sunday.
The Egyptian daily said Minister of Defense and Military Production Colonel General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hade made the decision ahead of a plan to form a new military council.
The reported move comes weeks after Sisi assumed his post, in the wake of President Mohammed Mursi’s sacking of former defense minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and former armed forces chief of staff Sami Anan.
In that surprise announcement, Mursi also scrapped a key constitutional document which gave the military legislative powers. Mursi and the army have had an uneasy relationship, in which observers say there is behind-the-scenes grappling between the first civilian president in Egypt’s history and a military that had moved to limit his power.
In addition to the generals he reportedly dismissed, the paper said Sisi removed six SCAF members: Mamdouh Abdel Hakk, Ismail Etman, Mohsen al-Fangari, Sami Diab, Adel Emara, and Mokhtar al-Mulla, it said, citing unnamed sources. Those six members would, however, remain in the Armed Forces, the paper said.
Sisi, the sources added, has not yet decided who is to succeed him as director of Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance, the position he held before being appointed minister of defense in August.
According to the sources, former Defense Minister and SCAF head Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi brought back to work several senior army officers who had already retired following the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak’s government last year.
According to the Armed Forces law, the sources explained, the minister of defense has the right to seek the help of people whose expertise is expected to be beneficial at a certain stage. This explains why several of the minister’s deputies were almost 10 years above retirement age.