News / Middle East

    Was the Military Ouster of Morsi a Coup... or Not?

    Supporters of President Mohamed Morsi carry a banner with his pictures during a protest to counter anti-Morsi protests elsewhere in Alexandria, July 2, 2013.
    Supporters of President Mohamed Morsi carry a banner with his pictures during a protest to counter anti-Morsi protests elsewhere in Alexandria, July 2, 2013.
    On July 3, the Egyptian military ousted the democratically elected president and senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi. He was deposed after a year in power, and three days after millions of Egyptians took to the streets protesting the way he ran the country.

    Mirette Mabrouk, with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, said Morsi accumulated power to himself, refused to take any advice and wouldn’t work with anyone else - in short, said Mabrouk, he did a dreadful job.

    “As a result, there were people who were politically opposed to the president,” she said. “There were people who were morally opposed to the president and there were people who were tired, hungry, had gotten sick and tired of consistent power shortages, petrol [gas] shortages, soaring inflation, soaring unemployment - and people had really just had enough.”

    Morsi ignored economy

    John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President George W. Bush said Morsi’s government completely ignored the economy.

    “That’s the real reason so many millions of Egyptians came out into the streets to demonstrate against Morsi. They wanted the economy fixed first,” said Bolton. “They might have been willing to accept an Islamist government, but only after the economy was back on its feet. And that misperception of the average Egyptian’s priorities, I think, cost Morsi very dearly.”

    But when the military moved in and deposed the democratically elected president, was it technically a coup?

    Was It a coup?

    Jeffrey Martini, an expert on Egypt with the RAND Corporation, said there is no doubt it was a military coup.

    “The military could have intervened with a scalpel, but they intervened with a hammer. They deposed the president, took him into custody. They took a number of senior officials within the Muslim Brotherhood into custody,” said Martini. “They shuttered the Freedom and Justice Party’s Cairo headquarters which, of course, is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood; suspended the constitution, dissolved the upper house of Parliament and took over the flagship newspaper. So I think taken together, it certainly looks like a coup to me.”

    But the Obama administration has been hesitant in describing the military takeover as a coup.

    US hesitates

    White House spokesman Jay Carney said: “This is an incredibly complex and difficult situation. President Obama made clear our deep concern about the decision made by the Egyptian armed forces to remove President Morsi from power and to suspend the constitution. It is also important to acknowledge that tens of millions of Egyptians have legitimate grievances with President Morsi’s undemocratic form of governance and they do not believe that this was a coup.”

    Carney also said that there are “significant consequences” that go along with determining that the military takeover in Egypt was a coup.

    Experts say one such consequence has to do with aid. The Foreign Assistance Act stipulates the U.S. will shut off its military aid to “any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup.”

    US provides substantial aid to Egypt

    Jeffrey Martini said the United States provides Egypt with two types of aid.

    “The biggest stream is what we call the Foreign Military Financing, the FMF. And that’s set at $1.3 billion. So Egypt receives $1.3 billion annually, which they invest in military platforms like the F-16, the M1-A1 Abrams tank, attack helicopters. And then, of course, the operations and maintenance that is required to operate them.”

    That is the aid that will stop if the Obama administration decides what happened in Egypt is a military coup.

    Martini said the second type of aid to Cairo is non-military, known as the “Economic Support Funds” worth $250 million in fiscal year 2012.

    He said whether it is military or economic aid, the money makes its way back to the United States.

    For example the $1.3 billion in military aid goes essentially to U.S. defense contractors, who provide the military hardware Egypt is acquiring.

    “Let’s look at the Economic Support Funds. That had historically been used for economic development in Egypt,” said Martini. “But since the revolution, it has been used to pay down Egypt’s bilateral debt with the United States. So it’s essentially going to the U.S. Treasury. The U.S. is cutting a check to itself, in both instances - in the sense that for the FMF, for the Foreign Military Financing, it’s cutting a check to defense contractors, basically. And for the Economic Support Funds, it’s cutting a check to the U.S. Treasury.””

    Martini said when U.S. lawmakers and experts are discussing cutting off military aid to Egypt, they are in essence talking about harming the U.S. defense industry as well.

    Photo Gallery: Latest Images from Egypt

    • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi perform weekly Friday prayers at the Rabaa Adawiya square in Cairo where they are camping, July 12, 2013.
    • A supporter of Morsi is doused with water on a hot day in Cairo, July 12, 2013.
    • Supporters of the ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout anti-army slogans during a sit-in protest in Cairo July 11, 2013.
    • Morsi Supporters pray after breaking their fast during Ramadan, in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, July 11, 2013.
    • An Egyptian boy stands among Morsi supporters who are offering the Tarawih prayer after the evening meal during Ramadan, in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
    • Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi during a rally in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
    • Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi protest at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
    • A supporter of ousted President Mohamed Morsi joins in a protest at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
    • A supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi reads the Koran at the Rabaa Adawiya square, Cairo,  July 9, 2013.
    • Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at their camp in Rabaa Adawiy square, Cairo, July 9, 2013. 
    • A supporter of ousted President Mohamed Morsi with a national flag gestures to army soldiers guard at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, July 9, 2013.
    • Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Morsi at Republican Guard headquarters in Nasr City, Cairo, July 8, 2013. 
    • Supporters Morsi carry the body of a fellow supporter killed by violence outside the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, July 8, 2013.
    • Morsi supporters mourn protesters who died during clashes with army soldiers in Cairo, July 8, 2013.
    • Wounded supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi wait for treatment at a field hospital in Cairo, July 8, 2013. 

    Andre de Nesnera

    Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora