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Egypt’s new president has shown he can seize an opportunity, said Youssef Hamza in The National (United Arab Emirates). President Mohammed Mursi surprised everyone this week by firing the top brass in the military, including Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and army chief of staff Gen. Sami Enan, and issuing a decree to restore presidential powers curbed by the army in June, including his ability to declare war. Why now? Because the army was suddenly vulnerable. Militants had just killed 16 soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula, and Egyptian media were hurling “rare charges of negligence,” saying that the generals were too preoccupied with ruling to concentrate on their core mission of defense. “Chances like this do not come often, and Mursi knew it.” He must also have had the support of at least some elements in the military, or Tantawi and company wouldn’t have submitted so meekly. Mursi’s assertion of civilian authority, said
So far, most Egyptians are pleased with Mursi’s assertion of civilian authority, said Randa Ali and Sara Mourad in Al-Ahram (Egypt). Islamists and secularists alike were upset when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has ruled since the 2011 revolution, suddenly snatched powers from the legislature and the presidency a few months ago. So the new shake-up is “broadly welcomed by most political forces and figures.” Certainly nobody is shedding a tear for Tantawi, a broadly unpopular figure who was Hosni Mubarak’s right-hand man for decades. In fact, some Egyptians think other generals supported the ouster of Tantawi because they opposed his plans for a military coup against Mursi in the coming weeks. Still, some revolutionary figures are concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood will come to “dominate all the country’s state authorities.”
They’re right to worry, said Rafiq Khuri in Al-Anwar (Lebanon). Right now, there is no constitution limiting presidential powers, and nobody knows when or whether the new constitutional assembly will finish drafting a new one. So Mursi currently has wider powers than even the dictator Mubarak had at his peak. “The power in Egypt has simply been transferred from a military pharaoh to an Islamic one.” Just as many feared, the Muslim Brotherhood has effectively hijacked the Egyptian revolution “to implement its own agenda.”
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That is true even if the military is on board with Mursi’s changes, said Eman Ragab in Al-Ahram. While the Brotherhood has sometimes collaborated and sometimes sparred with the military, it has consistently sidelined all other political groups. Upon his election, Mursi claimed he would form a unity government that would include liberal supporters of the revolution, but his cabinet is entirely dominated by Islamists. Egypt now faces the “specter of a reproduction of the tentacled political machine of the Mubarak regime but beneath a Brotherhood mantle.”
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