Washington not concerned over Morsi’s moves in Cairo

US has good working relationship with new defense minister, Washington Post reports

Washington is not particularly worried over sweeping changes enacted by Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, including the sacking of several top military leaders, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported late Sunday.

The US “has confidence” in the installation of new defense minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has had extensive contacts with Washington, Ignatius reported, quoting unnamed US officials.

On Sunday, Morsi sacked the head of the military and the defense minister, as well as several other top generals. Later in the day he instituted a number of reforms to put the drafting of a new constitution in the hands of the executive, further consolidating power and defanging the military in what some see as a Muslim Brotherhood putsch.

While the US was surprised by the moves, it was largely seen by Washington as a purge of leaders who were unpopular in any case and a “generational change,” according to the column.

What would be worrying to Foggy Bottom, though, were if Morsi was to also attempt to exercise control of the country’s judiciary. “Worries about the judiciary were prompted by another Morsi move Sunday — to appoint senior judge Mahmoud Mekki as vice president. The fear is that Mekki, as a former jurist, might reject rulings by the court,” Ignatius wrote.

Despite Morsi’s base in the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, Washington, which backed the popular revolution that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011, has largely welcomed the new president as a sign of flowering democracy in the former autocratic republic.

Several top US officials have already met with Morsi, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Minister Leon Panetta, and President Barack Obama reportedly plans to parlay with the new leader at the UN General Assembly in New York next month.

While the US is ostensibly unconcerned, some in Israel have reacted to the changes in Cairo warily, saying the ousted military leaders had good contacts with Israel and the consolidation of power with Morsi could stifle independent voices.

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