News Release

Debate on Egypt: Scrutinizing the Coup and the Brotherhood


The British Independent reports today: “The United States still plans to go through with the delivery of four F16 fighter jets to Egypt in the coming weeks, even after the Egyptian military’s removal of Mohamed Morsi.” See this backgrounder on U.S. military contractors in Egypt.

EMAD MEKAY, emad_mekay at
Mekay is an Egyptian journalist currently working for the Investigative Reporting Program at University of California at Berkeley. He just wrote the piece “Exclusive: U.S. Bankrolled Anti-Morsi Activists” for Al-Jazeera, which has caused substantial controversy.

He recently wrote the op-ed “Overthrowing Democracy in Egypt,” which appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Mekay wrote: “President Obama said he was ‘deeply concerned’ about the coup. But the U.S. should also do some soul-searching; America’s long relationship with Egypt’s military has included funding, training and propagandizing, and many in Egypt can’t help but feel that helped enable the coup. …

“Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, who got his master’s degree at the U.S. Army War College, promised transparency and freedom in his speech declaring the coup [last week], and several civilians were arrayed next to him. But as Sisi spoke, all [television] channels that supported Morsi or questioned the coup were being shut down. …

“The military, which has for decades received immense financial benefit from being in control, obviously had the most to gain. Under Mubarak, officers grew used to being given huge tracts of land, membership in exclusive clubs and discounts on just about every purchase. But there is also an elite group of civilian Egyptians who will benefit from military rule and who were willing to sacrifice democracy and lend a civilian face to the coup.”

GHADA TALHAMI, talhami at
Talhami is emeritus professor in the department of politics at Lake Forest College. Her books include The Mobilization of Muslim Women in Egypt and Palestine in the Egyptian Press.

She said today: “The focus in the Egyptian story seems to be shifting from the democratic opposition to that of the military. Apparently, the Egyptian military intervened in the stalemate resulting form Morsi’s refusal to step down as a result of some coordination with the civilian opposition. What moved them to act was the prospect of a breakdown in law and order which would have not only deepened Egypt’s economic and political crisis, but also would have provided an opportunity for outside intervention, most likely by Israel. This is not a far-fetched idea, given Israel’s recent raids over Syria under the pretext that chemical weapons may fall in the wrong hands and jeopardize Israel’s safety. Admittedly, the Egyptian opposition and the young activists of the Tamarud movement may have been laboring under the spell of the romantic memory of the military’s nationalist and reformist role during the 1950s and 1960’s. Clearly, the Egyptian public did not fully accept the marginalization of the military as a result of the Camp David treaty, believing correctly that the military was the only force in the country capable of restoring national unity and stability to Egypt. …”

Reacting to reports of recent mass resignations at Al-Jazeera, Talhami stated: “Among the losers in Egypt’s recent confrontation between the Brotherhood’s government and the military were Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya satellite stations. … Al-Arabiya, which is financed by Saudi Arabia, did not rankle the Egyptians as much as Al-Jazeera which has been losing a large portion of its Arab viewers recently … due to its open advocacy of Qatar’s policies and views.”

Background: See comprehensive piece from Middle East Research and Information Project: “Egypt in Year Three.”

See the New York Times piece today: “Sudden Improvements in Egypt Suggest a Campaign to Undermine Morsi.” The Times recently reported that Morsi, before being deposed, got a call from an official from another Arab country stating he was acting as an “emissary of Washington” who “asked if Mr. Morsi would accept the appointment of a new prime minister and cabinet, one that would take over all legislative powers and replace his chosen provincial governors. …

“His top foreign policy adviser, Essam el-Haddad, then left the room to call the United States ambassador, Anne W. Patterson, to say that Mr. Morsi refused. When he returned, he said he had spoken to Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser, and that the military takeover was about to begin, senior aides said. …

“United States officials had repeatedly urged Mr. Morsi to compromise with the opposition and include it in government. In December, President Obama met with Mr. Haddad, Mr. Morsi’s foreign policy adviser, in the Oval Office to deliver that message, Mr. Morsi’s advisers said. At one point, they said, Mr. Obama offered to intervene with the opposition leaders, either Mohamed ElBaradei, the former United Nations diplomat, or Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister under Mr. Mubarak. But Mr. Morsi declined.”