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Did Morsi Fire Defense Officials Because of a Planned Coup?

Report: Egypt is speculating that Morsi’s decision to fire his military elite was due to a planned coup against him.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/15/2012, 4:37 AM

Morsi meets new Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sissi
Morsi meets new Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sissi
Reuters

Two days after Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi decided to order the retirement of Egypt's top generals, speculations in the country continued on Tuesday as to the motive behind the decision.

Channel 10 News reported that the latest speculation is that Morsi’s decision to fire Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and Chief of Staff Sami Anan was due to the fact that the two were planning a coup against him.

The report said that Morsi fired the two men in order to take preventive measures, after receiving a request from several senior military officers, led by new Defense Minister Abdul-Fatah al-Sissi, who told him that Tantawi and Anan were planning to rob him of some of his authorities as president.

Al-Sissi and the officers claimed that the army intends to turn a planned million man protest, scheduled for next Friday, into a huge show of force against the Muslim Brotherhood. Thus, they said, the army planned to hurt Morsi.

The report added that the Egyptian president heard this and rushed to respond by dismissing the two and appointing as defense minister the man who revealed the alleged plot against him.

Morsi’s decision on Sunday surprised both Israel and the United States, with the latter saying it has confidence in the new defense minister. In remarks he gave on Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, “I spoke with Egypt’s new defense minister, General al-Sissi. He said he was committed to the principles of the peace agreement signed at Camp David and ensuring security in the Sinai Peninsula.”

Panetta added that al-Sissi “is a highly qualified officer who spent much time training in the U.S. General al-Sissi expressed his great commitment to the relations between Egypt and the United States.”

Earlier on Tuesday it was reported that Morsi will discuss, in coming days, making changes in the Camp David Accord signed with Israel.

Morsi’s advisor told a local newspaper in Egypt that the changes will allow Egypt "to implement its full sovereignty over the Sinai Peninsula."