In new blow to the military, Egypt’s president to regain exclusive right to declare war

‘The opinion of the armed forces is consultative,’ says member of the constitutional assembly

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Egyptian guards patrol near the Israeli-Egyptian border (photo credit: AP/Ahmed Gomaa/File)
Egyptian guards patrol near the Israeli-Egyptian border (photo credit: AP/Ahmed Gomaa/File)

The authority to declare war will be stripped from the Supreme Council of Armed Forces and given to the president, Egypt’s constitutional assembly decided.

To declare war, the president will require the consent of the National Defense Council, a security body revived in June by the army and comprising political and military figures. It will also require the consent of the People’s Assembly, Egypt’s parliament, but not that of SCAF.

The decision marks another setback for Egypt’s military establishment, which has seen its powers eroded since the election of Egypt’s first civilian president in June.

Earlier that month, the military amended the constitution of 1971, depriving the president of the prerogative to declare war without the army’s approval. Since taking office, President Mohammed Morsi has sought to consolidate power in the executive.

“The opinion of the armed forces is consultative, advising on the readiness [for war]; it cannot impose its opinion on the state,” constitutional assembly member Bassam Zarqa told the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.

On August 12, Morsi overhauled the military establishment by retiring SCAF chief and Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi and Chief of Staff Sami Anan. Morsi also discharged the heads of the navy, air defense and air force.

In a Reuters interview on Tuesday, Morsi pledged to honor international agreements, and said Egypt would not initiate war.


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