Mohamed Morsi
Mohamed MorsiIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has sacked the entire leadership of the country's defense establishment.  

Among the officials and officers fired are Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, and Chief of Staff Sami Anan.

Morsi appointed Abdul-Fatah al-Sessi as Defense Minister and Lieutenant-General Sidki Sayed Ahmed as Army Chief of Staff. A judge named Mahmoud Mekki was appointed vice president. Morsi also ordered the retirement of the commanders of the navy, air defense and air force. The retired navy commander, Lieutenant-General Mohan Mameesh, was named as chairman of the Suez Canal.

Morsi also cancelled all constitutional changes that gave the military enlarged powers.

Last week, Morsi fired the Head of General Intelligence, General Morad Mu'afi, following the Sinai terror attack in which 16 policemen were killed. Egyptian news sources also said that Morsi had sacked the governor of Sinai.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi appears to be wasting no time in consolidating his hold over power at the expense of the military, which many hoped would be a moderating power over him.

It remains to be seen how the military and the Egyptian street react to Morsi's moves. Al Jazeera said the president's spokesperson made the surprising announcement on state television. "All of this has happened very fast, and it was unexpected," said the station's correspondent.

Channel 2's Middle East analyst Ehud Yaari said that the move places the Muslim Brotherhood solidly at the helm of power in Egypt. He added that it is not clear whether Morsi will instruct the military forces that he ordered into Sinai to return to mainland Egypt after they complete their anti-terrorist action – or whether he will instruct them to remain in Sinai, thus forcing Israel to decide how to respond.

The peace treaty between Israel and Egypt forbids military deployment in Sinai. Israel gave its approval for a temporary deployment, however, in order to crack down on the terrorist infrastructure there.