U.S. hopes Egyptian civilian, military leaders work together
WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2012 – U.S. defense officials were expecting Egypt’s new president to name his own defense team and hope civilian and military leaders can work together to address the country’s problems, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.
Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi announced yesterday that the head of military intelligence, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, would replace Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi as defense minister and leader of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The council effectively led Egypt after last year’s fall of President Hosni Mubarak until Morsi took office in June.
Morsi is the first democratically elected leader in Egypt’s history.
The president also replaced army chief of staff Gen. Sami Hafez Anan and the leaders of the navy, air force and air defense branch.
“It’s important for both the military and civilians leaders in Egypt to work together to address the economic and security challenges facing that country,” Little said. “We had expected President Morsi to coordinate changes in the military leadership. The United States and the Department of Defense, in particular, look forward to continuing a very close relationship with the [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces].”
U.S. officials know General Sisi, Little said. “He comes from within the ranks of the SCAF, and we believe we will be able to continue the strong partnership that we have with Egypt,” he added.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has not spoken to the new defense minister, “but looks forward to doing so at the earliest possible moment,” Little said.
Egyptian officials said the 76-year old Tantawi retired, but would continue to serve as a presidential advisor.