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Ear to the Ground

‘When Is a Military Coup Not a Military Coup?’

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Posted on Jul 5, 2013
AP/Hassan Ammar

Military special forces aim their weapons as they surround Nasser City in Cairo on Wednesday.

“For the first time in the history of the world, a coup is not a coup,” Robert Fisk writes in The Independent. “The army take over, depose and imprison the democratically elected president, suspend the constitution, arrest the usual suspects, close down television stations and mass their armour in the streets of the capital. But the word ‘coup’ does not—and cannot—cross the lips of the Blessed Barack Obama.”

The American president is not alone in his reservation. “[H]opeless” U.N Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon too does not “dare to utter such an offensive word.”

Fisk asks, “Is this reticence because millions of Egyptians demanded just such a coup?” Did Egyptians become “the first massed people in the world to demand a coup prior to the actual coup taking place? Is it because Obama fears that to acknowledge it’s a coup would force the US to impose sanctions on the most important Arab nation at peace with Israel? Or because the men who staged the coup might forever lose their 1.5 billion subvention from the US—rather than suffer a mere delay—if they were told they’d actually carried out a coup.”

Remember when Obama reached out to the Muslim world in his 2009 speech in Cairo? At that time the president made “the following remarkable comment, which puts the events in Egypt today into a rather interesting perspective. There were some leaders, he said, ‘who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others … you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.’ “

That statement “pretty much sums up what Mohamed Morsi did wrong,” Fisk argues. “He treated his Muslim Brotherhood mates as masters rather than servants of the people, showed no interest in protecting Egypt’s Christian minority, and then enraged the Egyptian army by attending a Brotherhood meeting at which Egyptians were asked to join the holy war in Syria to kill Shiites and overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s regime.”

To this unfortunate development, add the satisfaction over Morsi’s dismissal of Assad, a secularist waging his own bloody civil war against “Islamists” and “terrorists.” Egypt’s secular army called Morsi’s supporters “terrorists and fools”—just what Assad calls his enemies. Fisk highlights the American hypocrisy: “The West has been wetting itself to destroy Assad—but does absolutely nothing when the Egyptian army destroys its democratically-elected president for lining up with Assad’s armed Islamist opponents.”

Western leaders opposed to an Islamist Egypt would have us believe that country is “still on the path to ‘democracy,’ that this is an ‘interim’ period—like the ‘interim’ Egyptian government concocted by the military—and that millions of Egyptians support the coup that isn’t a coup.” They “have to remember that Morsi was indeed elected in a real, Western-approved election. Sure, he won only 51 per cent—or 52 per cent—of the vote.” Or at least we do.

In our own country, did George W. Bush “really win his first presidential election?” Morsi won a greater share of the popular vote than England’s David Cameron. “We can say that Morsi lost his mandate when he no longer honoured his majority vote by serving the majority of Egyptians. But does that mean that European armies must take over their countries whenever European prime ministers fall below 50 per cent in their public opinion polls? And by the way, are the Muslim Brotherhood to be allowed to participate in the next Egyptian presidential elections? Or will they be banned? And if they participate, what will happen if their candidate wins again?”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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