New Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi yesterday ordered the retirement of Defense Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi as well as the military’s Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Annan. Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, is Egypt’s first democratically elected president. Morsi also restored to the presidential office powers that were taken from it by the military before his election.

Earlier today, Egypt’s military signaled its acquiescence to the shake-up. A posting on a Facebook page known to be close to the country’s military said the changes amounted to the “natural” handing over of leadership to a younger generation. Furthermore, the country’s official news agency quoted an unnamed military official yesterday as saying there has been no “negative reaction” from within the military.

Morsi has appointed Tantawi and Annan to be his presidential advisers during their retirement. This has sparked speculation that the shake-up of the military brass was part of a “safe exit” deal struck between Morsi and the generals to shield them against prosecution for any alleged crimes during the time they ruled the country.

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