Does it look like a coup?

12-07-2013 12:56 PM

Fady Labib

As the controversy rages over whether or not the overthrow of Mursi was a military coup, Watani took the question to the experts.

Professor of Strategic Sciences Nabil Fouad says that many in the West have termed the military intervention to back the wide public demand in Egypt to overthrow Mursi a ‘Revolution coup’, which he believes to be an appropriate term. Dr Fouad says that what happened on the Egyptian scene can neither be described as a revolution proper nor a military coup, since the army did not make any grab for power, but handed it over to a civilian interim president. And even though the army announced a Roadmap that includes no role for the military, it is known to have managed the events that overthrew Mursi. But it is also a fact, he says, that the military intervention came in response to public demand.
What’s a coup?
But what is, technically speaking, a military coup? Major General Zakariya Henein, former president of Nasser Military Academy, says that a coup involves the deployment of military equipment and personnel around political and strategic targets, hounding the political leadership and forcibly overthrowing it through a statement broadcast on State TV or radio announcing that power has been seized by the army. 
In this light, Major General Henein sees that the ‘coup’ conducted by the Egyptian military last week was incomplete, because it did not seize power.
Ibrahim Yusri, former assistant to the foreign minister, holds a different opinion. He sees that the military action fulfils all the criteria of a coup as far as constitutional and legal standards are concerned, even if not on the political level. Even though Egyptians went out by the millions to demand the ouster of Mursi, Mr Yusri points out, democracy is based on the legitimacy of the ballot box, not on any revolutionary action.
To avert any negative repercussions, he says, Mursi’s supporters should be included, and early presidential elections should be held as soon as possible. A new constitution should also be swiftly drafted. “It worries me,” Mr Yusri said, “that the interim president has sworn allegiance to the constitution, while there is no constitution to speak of.” Which also lends legitimacy to the current constitution that the Roadmap suspended, since it was approved by a 65 per cent popular vote.
It’s about western interests, not democracy
“No matter what the West says about democracy, it recognises only its own interests,” the political researcher and Watani column writer Soliman Shafiq says. In case of the Middle East, these interests comprise the security of Israel, upholding the Camp David peace agreement, securing military advantages, and a Sunni-Shia divide. If one bears in mind that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) had agreed to all four points while the secular political movements in Egypt agreed to only the first two, one can understand why the US backed the MB. “The matter has nothing to do with democracy,” Mr Shafiq says.  
“The West also claims it doesn’t understand that the Egyptian army is allied to the Egyptian people,” he says, “even though this is seen as reasonable enough in case of Turkey.
“The most flagrant evidence that the West is only concerned about interests not democracy is that they turn a blind eye to non-democratic regimes when it is in their interest to do so. Just look at a western ally like Saudi Arabia; when did the West ever criticise practices that were not in line with democracy there?”
When Watani talked to the security and legal expert Talaat Muslim, he cared to point out that the military intervention to oust Mursi should have come as no surprise. “It was not even sudden,” he explains. “It began with vociferous public demand, through demonstrations or public meetings, that the army should step in. Then came the legal authorisations people filed for Colonel General Sisi; and when the 30 June nationwide protests erupted, the protestors explicitly asked the army to step in. That was a clear popular mandate to the armed forces to take action.”
All aboard
In an interview with Watani’s Angele Reda, professor of political psychology at Ain Shams University Qadri Hifny offered an analysis of the scene in which the army announced its Roadmap for the future of Egypt on 3 July, the day of the supposed coup. “Colonel General Sisi was flanked by the leaders of the national groups in Egypt: the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Pope Tawadros II, opposition leader Muhammad ElBaradei, Galal al-Murra Secretary-General of the Salafi Nour Party, and the writer and activist Sakina Fouad to represent Egypt’s women, and Tamarud—the rebel movement that led the 30 June protests—leaders to represent Egypt’s youth. Even though it was Sisi who read the Roadmap declaration, his being in the midst of all those representatives of the Egyptian people lent legitimacy to the statement he was announcing. It was obvious the army had not monopolised the scene, but was part of an inclusive public movement.”
“This scene,” Dr Hifny insisted, “proved beyond doubt that the army’s role amounted to no military coup. What coup can there be with the active participation of Pope Tawadros or Sheikh Tayeb? Or for that matter ElBaradei, Fouad, or the youth leaders?” This scene, he said, indicates that the Armed Forces tackled the situation with exemplary smartness and wisdom.
WATANI International
14 July 2013
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