Thursday, July 04, 2013
Egypt/DC: When is a Coup not a Coup?
Looks like Washington is going to tie itself in knots over the question of whether the coup in Egypt is really a coup, since if it is, Washington will tie its own hands with an automatic aid cut off. ... Hmmm, sort of like sequestering foreign policy. It's time Congress got out of the ultimatum business. But there's little hope of that, I suppose.
Was the overthrow of Egypt's Islamist government a coup?
Much hangs on the exact words used to describe what happened.
If the U.S. government determines the Egyptian military carried out a coup, it could affect the $1.5 billion in economic and military assistance Washington gives Egypt each year. ...
The usual Arabic term for a military coup is "inqilab askari." Inqilab literally means overturning; askari means military.
"Coup" comes from the French "coup d'etat," or "stroke of state." Webster's New World College Dictionary defines it as the "sudden, forcible overthrow of a ruler, government, etc., sometimes with violence, by a small group of people already having some political or military authority." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language also speaks of a "small group."
Egypt's military overthrew an elected government after giving Morsi and his political opponents first seven days, then 48 hours to work out their own differences. Egypt's top military officers could also be defined as a "small group," but they acted after millions of citizens across the country demonstrated for Morsi's removal. The military's statement said its move was "an interaction with the pulse of the Egyptian street."
The military installed a civilian government, not putting generals directly in power.
So far, The Associated Press is not characterizing the overthrow as a "coup," using purely descriptive terms like "the overthrow of Morsi by the military."
Associated Press reporters Donna Cassata in Washington and Lee Keath in Cairo contributed to this story.