Top of the Morning: Huge Political Shakeup in Egypt; Iran Earthquakes Death Toll Rises

Top stories from DAWNS Digest. 

Huge Shakeup in Egyptian Politics as Morsi Sacks Military Rulers

Ever since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the military establishment has kept a firm grip on power. Once the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammad Morsi was elected the military council tried hard to impose its will on him and over politics in general. Then, yesterday, this happened: “President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt forced the retirement on Sunday of his powerful defense minister, the army chief of staff and several senior generals, in a stunning purge that seemed for the moment to reclaim for civilian leaders much of the political power the Egyptian military had seized since the fall of Hosni Mubarak last year. Mr. Morsi also nullified a constitutional declaration, issued by the military before he was elected, that eviscerated the powers of the presidency and arrogated to the military the right to enact laws. It was not immediately clear whether he had the constitutional authority to cancel that decree. In a news conference broadcast about 5 p.m., Mr. Morsi’s spokesman, Yasser Ali, announced the retirements of the defense minister, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, and the army chief of staff, Sami Anan. He said that both men would serve as advisers to the president, suggesting that they had acquiesced to the plan.” (NYT

Death Toll Rises in Iran Earthquakes

Iran was rocked by powerful earthquakes on Saturday. Rescue and relief efforts are just getting underway. “Reza Sedighi, a relief official in the area, told Fars that at least 300 people were killed Saturday, and other officials reported more than 4,500 injured, some severely. Doctors on the scene predicted that more people would be found under destroyed houses, mosques and farms. In total, 133 villages were damaged. Shortages of water and food are being reported throughout the quake zone, a mountainous region near the border with Azerbaijan. The quakes struck in quick succession, with the more powerful one measuring a magnitude of 6.4, the United States Geological Survey reported. Iranian news media said that the epicenters were near four smaller cities north of Tabriz: Ahar, Heris, Mehraban and Varzaqan. The villages near Varzaqan were hit especially hard, with many mud brick houses collapsing and trapping those inside, many of them women and children, the region’s governor, Moharram Foroughi, said. ‘Most of the dead are women and children, as the earthquake happened during the day, when many men were out working,’ said Marjan Lagaei, an Iranian reporter who traveled to the area.” (NYT