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A Military Coup in Egypt

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By William Tucker

After several days of mass protests, the Egyptian military first floated the idea of a roadmap to political transition, and then decided that President Morsi had to go. Naturally, Morsi was defiant and claimed, rightly so, that he was the democratically elected leader of Egypt and any attempt by the military to remove him from power was nothing short of a military coup. Indeed, Morsi was democratically elected, but he was mostly focused on solidifying his political powerbase among his Muslim Brotherhood allies and did little to ensure the rights of minority Egyptians. For its part, the military didn’t want to involve itself so overtly into the political process, but the mass protests were likely to have a negative effect on an already unstable state if they persisted any longer. Once the military’s 48 hour ultimatum for a political solution had passed, it had no choice but to act lest it loose any standing that would undermine its political power. Though rumors persisted about events behind the scene, most questions were put to rest once General Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi appeared before television cameras and announced that the president had been removed and the constitution was effectively suspended.

The Egyptian military is still the most cohesive political power in Egypt which allowed the coup to move ahead with speed and efficiency. Truth be told, removing Morsi was the easy part. What comes next, however, will be the most trying. The varying Muslim Brotherhood political entities were elected to office and came to dominate the political landscape. This recent coup will not change the makeup of the country and the MB will likely continue to dominate Egyptian politics, but the coup has placed the MB on notice – the military will not stand by and watch their political power erode, nor will they allow such a large minority of Egyptians to be ignored. As the MB starts the long march to return to its powerful position in Egyptian politics, it will either have to be more mindful of the minority demands or it will have to take on military head on. Of course it could do both, but building that type of political prowess takes time to cultivate and sheer numbers alone doesn’t always guarantee success. In the short term, look for the MB to return to power, but it will have to be smarter about how it rules. This coup serves as a very nasty lesson in that regard.

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