US unsurprised by Egypt army reshuffle (BBC) British Broadcasting Company) 14 August 2012 Last updated at 00:58 GMT)
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The US had expected Egypt to reshuffle the military, the Pentagon has
said, a day after President Mohammed Mursi dismissed the head of the
Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, who had worked closely the US
army chiefs for decades, was ordered to go into retirement on Sunday.
The move came after weeks of tension between Mr Mursi and the
The Pentagon, a large aid donor to Eygpt´s army, said it expected to
maintain close ties with the military.
The generals had assumed presidential powers after the ousting of
President Hosni Mubarak last year.
Although President Mursi´s announcement startled observers, the BBC´s
Kim Ghattas in Washington says the US showed no sign of surprise.
As the US gives more than $1bn in aid to the Egyptian military, it
would expect some degree of consultation or warning, she says.
The new Egyptian defence team is made of up officials who have
trained in the US and are known to the Pentagon, our correspondent
"We had expected President Mursi at some point to co-ordinate changes
in the military leadership, to name a new team," Pentagon spokesman
George Little told reporters.
"The United States and the Department of Defence in particular look
forward to continuing a very close relationship with the Scaf
(Supreme Council of the Armed Forces)."
Field Marshal Tantawi has been replaced as both armed forces chief
and defence minister by head of military intelligence Abdul Fattah al-
"The new defence minister is someone who is known to us, he comes
from within the ranks of the Scaf and we believe we´ll be able to
continue the strong partnership that we have with Egypt," Mr Little
He added that US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta looked forward to
calling the new secretary "at the earliest possible moment".
US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also said it was
important that Egypt´s civilian leadership and the military worked
together "to advance the goals of the democratic transition in Egypt".
Egypt has been a key US ally since the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace
However, since the election of Islamist Mr Mursi as Egypt´s first
democratically elected president, there have been fears that he might
try to renegotiate the treaty.
So far the Egyptian military has shown no sign of challenging Field
Marshal Tantawi´s replacement.
Correspondents say Egyptians will see the dismissals as a decisive
move in a struggle for power between the country´s newly elected
politicians and the generals who have exercised power for many years.
Also on Sunday, Mr Mursi annulled a key constitutional declaration
issued in June which gave the military legislative powers and
budgetary controls as well as the right to oversee the process of
drawing up a new permanent constitution.
It is not clear how the Supreme Constitutional Court will react to Mr
Mursi´s move to nullify the decree.
The military council has in the past appeared to be at odds with the
Muslim Brotherhood which now dominates parliament with its Freedom
and Justice Party (FJP).
Mr Mursi resigned from his leadership positions within the
Brotherhood, including his role as chairman of the FJP, when he won
the presidential election in June. (© BBC MMXII 08/14/12)
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