Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi carry a banner of him.
Asmaa Waguih / Courtesy Reuters

Over the weekend, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi sacked Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the minister of defense, and Lieutenant-General Sami Hafez Enan, the chief of staff of the armed forces. He also cancelled the military’s June 17 constitutional decree, which stripped important national security and defense prerogatives from the presidency. His move came as a shock. Yet Morsi is doing what any prudent national leader does upon assuming office -- consolidating power. 

In the coming days, much of the commentary about Morsi’s gambit will focus on what it means for Egypt’s transition, especially the direction of civil-military relations, which have favored the armed forces for the past 60 years. Equally important, however, is how changes in Egypt’s senior military command will alter the country’s ties with the United States. If historical precedent is any guide, Morsi’s shake-up at the Egyptian Ministry of Defense will be followed by a

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  • STEVEN A. COOK is Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. His Twitter handle is @stevenacook.
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