Beware the many headlines giving shorthand to what has happened in Egypt over the last 48 hours by calling it a “coup.” Knowledgeable analysts are more careful.
Recap: Chief of Egyptian armed forces Abdul Fatah al-Sisi placed President Mohamed Morsi under house arrest on July 3 after he refused to resign—with millions of Egyptians in the streets of Cairo since June 30 calling for his ouster. The military moved quickly to install the president of Egypt’s Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as the country’s new interim president, and also quickly moved to arrest senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood. With visible cooperation from Egypt’s leading Christian and Islamic clergy, plus prominent political leaders, Sisi has laid out a roadmap for transition to a new constitution and government, with new elections. No timetable has been set.
The installation of a civilian president, though clearly the military remains in lead position, likely complies with American law on maintaining Egypt’s $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid. That’s one way, while the White House largely remains a bystander to events in Cairo, for the United States to maintain access to Egypt’s circle of power, its military commanders.
Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haas says calling this a coup is “inaccurate”:
This political intervention came in response to a crisis; it was not its cause. Just as important, the events of recent days were not a power grab by Egypt’s military. The country’s soldiers wisely show little appetite for rule. They are entrusting temporary power with judicial authorities and setting up a timetable for political transition.
Lead analysts at the Brookings Institution call it “a soft coup” and “popular impeachment” of Morsi, while warning of the high stakes ahead.
Egyptian bloggers like The Big Pharoah and others are calling the upheaval the “popularly legitimate coup,” and one “supported by the largest gathering of Egyptians in history.”
In Egypt, we just had one facet of democracy, elections, and the Brotherhood deprived us from all the other facets that Westerners take for granted.
NYT’s Thomas Friedman (who calls it “the toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt”) suggests we may see across the region pushback against Islamist parties: “It would be premature to say that this era of political Islam is over, but it is definitely time to say that the more moderate, non-Islamist, political center has started to push back on these Islamist parties.”
Barnabas Fund’s Patrick Sookhdeo writes that the ouster of Morsi exposes “the failure of the ‘Arab Spring’ to bring democracy and freedom to the country.” What Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood failed to realize is that “democracy is about much more than merely holding elections. It is about inclusion, equality and ruling by consent.”
Bolivian president Evo Morales is threatening to close the U.S. embassy in the latest row over fugitive Edward Snowden: “My hand would not tremble to close the U.S. Embassy. We have dignity, sovereignty. Without the United States, we are better politically, democratically,” he said.
Italy and France have joined a growing list of countries that refuse to grant asylum to Snowden.
I just finished reading: Bird of Chaman, Flower of the Khyber by Matthieu Aikens, the tale of a reporter riding shotgun from Karachi to Kabul as part of the fabled overland transport system to Afghanistan … a fascinating e-book read.
And am fully aware: The nations may rage but Jay-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail,is the hot news.