The events in Egypt this week have many commentators and pundits asking “When is a coup not a coup?”
Just to be clear, the definition of a coup –
I’ve been watching the “debate” between my pro- and anti-Morsi friends on my Facebook page. Those in favor of getting rid of Morsi prefer to focus on his misdeeds and missteps and avoid the term “coup” because that connotes a misdeed as well.
“Whatever the reason is, it is unacceptable that a democratically-elected government was overthrown by illegitimate means, even more, with a military coup,” the Turkish minister added, calling for an immediate end to Morsi’s arrest.
Contrast that with the statement made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who expressed hope that [the new acting President Adli Mansour] would fulfill the aspirations of the Egyptian people to “live in freedom, dignity and stability.” Abbas praised the Egyptian army and its commanders for preserving the country’s security and preventing it from slipping toward the abyss. Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a top aide to Abbas, saluted the Egyptian army for the “wonderful achievement.”
Robert Fisk’s piece in the Independent (July 5) exposes the West’s [and I might add Abbas’] hypocrisy. Obama certainly won’t call it a coup because the U.S. law would require him to withhold the $1.5 billion our government sends Egypt regularly. Fisk also notes:
And there is one salient fact about the events of the last 48 hours in Egypt. No one is happier – no one more satisfied nor more conscious of the correctness of his own national struggle against ‘Islamists’ and ‘terrorists’ — than Assad. 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.
A medical doctor, Hassaan Choudry, wrote:
Today is a throbbing day for democracy, rule of law, legitimacy, truth, factuality, principle and any other word that fits into the same category. An elected head of the state, with a victory margin of a million votes, was overthrown by an army chief who said blatantly and shamelessly ‘this is not a coup‘. Shadi Hamid, a renowned analyst on Egypt and the director of research at the Brookings Institute, Doha, was almost spontaneous when he replied‘If this is not a coup, the word “military coup” no longer have any meaning‘.
The Economist, in my opinion, has provided the most cogent description of Morsi’s one year in office, the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the events leading up to the coup. Check it out here. I must agree with the editor of The Economist:
“This week we put Egypt on the cover, without enthusiasm. Some people—including many Egyptians—are cheering the ouster of the Islamist president, Muhammad Morsi. We think it a tragedy. It sets a dreadful precedent for the region, in that it encourages discontented people to get rid of their leaders by disrupting their rule, not by voting them out, and it encourages Islamists to distrust democracy. The army can mitigate the situation by holding elections swiftly and cleanly, but much damage has already been done.”
What can the world expect now?
- Violence, a lot of it. For days, weeks, and maybe months to come.
- At least one commentator thinks this revolt will fuel the Al-Qaeda fires.
- Military rulers will delay elections until calm is restored, or so they will say.
- Tourists and tourism dollars, tepid before the coup, will dry up completely now. And forget foreign investment.
- That IMF loan? Forget it. And there’s a good chance that loan from Qatar will disappear too.
- The long lines at the fueling stations will disappear because the fuel will all but disappear too.
- Hunger will rise because the lack of fuel means farmers can’t run their wells and can’t irrigate their fields and can’t get the wheat to markets.
- The 13+% unemployment in Egypt has nowhere to go but up.
As dire as all of this sounds for Egyptians, my concern (truth be told) is with Gaza. How will this coup impact the Palestinians in Gaza who share a border with Egypt, the only lifeline to the outside world since Israel has hermetically sealed this small enclave (air, land, and sea)?
- Israel must be pleased that the Egyptian army is back in power. They can count on the Egyptian military being good sycophants, just as they can with the U.S. Congress, to keep the Palestinians penned in.
- Hamas will again be blamed for the unrest in Egypt. Many Egyptians believe Hamas is responsible for the abduction and killing of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai. Hamas denies it, but how do you prove a negative? Israel must be pleased with that predicament.
- Movement in and out of Gaza through the Rafah border crossing will be much more difficult, if not impossible, for the next days and weeks. Two Palestinian friends of mine are outside waiting to return home. I wonder how long they can wait.
- Food, fuel, medicine and many other goods that enter Gaza illegally through the tunnels will not come. I’ve heard some Palestinian officials outside of Gaza call for the closure of the tunnels because all trade should be transparent and legal. My response? “Damn right it should be. Tell that to the Israelis who have blockaded Gaza for the past 7 years, forcing this tunnel economy to emerge.”
- PA President Abbas is calling for Palestinians to overthrow Hamas now. Whatever happened to the notion of reconciliation and building a democratic Palestinian state? Hamas was democratically elected, right?
- Finally, will I be able to return to Gaza now? That’s on my mind.