Inside Story

Egypt: Crisis, coup or revolution?

We discuss how the international community is reacting to the situation in Egypt as protests continue unabated.

Egypt is bracing for further turmoil in the face of more protests on the streets and after a judge has ordered the detention of deposed President Mohamed Morsi.

Washington is looking at this purely through a military lens, now I would argue that we need a people-to-people lens. We need to broaden this, it is not in the interest of the American people to be giving over $70bn over this past period to the Egyptian military and it is not helping the Egyptian people ...

by Jonathan Guyer, an associate editor of the Cairo Review of Global Affairs

Thousands of Egyptians are taking part in demonstrations in favour and against military rule.

The head of the military has called on people to take to the streets to give him a mandate to crack down on what he called ‘terrorism’. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood called on its supporters to hold rival demonstrations.

It all comes as the deposed president is held for a further 15 days – accused of plotting with Hamas during the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

The charges against Morsi were laid a day after Ban Ki-moon, the UN chief secretary general, called for the release of the deposed president.

A UN spokesman said Ban demanded Morsi and his high-level aides be released or have their cases reviewed transparently without delay.

Deciding how to deal with Egypt’s new rulers has split the international community.

Earlier this month, William Burns, the US deputy secretary of state,  visited Cairo to meet a number of interim leaders.

The US government refuses to say whether the change of power in Egypt should be called a coup.

Since 1978 the US has provided Egypt with military aid but, under US law, that aid would have to stop if a coup had taken place.

As it is, that money is still being paid to Egypt: $1.3bn a year but it has stopped its delivery of F-16 fighter jets to the military, citing the increasing unrest.

The military is very clearly still filling in the power vacuum in the country... I am very worried about what this means for rule of law, what this means for civil violence in the country and what this means for human rights going forward. And nothing I have really seen so far indicates that the military is willing to break with past policies and really come out as true defender of a democratic transition.

by Charles Dunne, a former US diplomat

The European Union has tried to play the role of mediator. Its foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, was in Cairo just 10 days ago pushing for an inclusive political process.

That message was symbolised by her meetings with both interim leaders and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

She also urged the military to release Morsi, held since July 3, but her request was ignored.

Back in April, Ashton tried to persuade Morsi to sign a power sharing agreement with the opposition but her proposal went unheeded.

Turkey has been clear, calling the military takeover an unacceptable coup.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign affairs minister, has refused to officially recognise Egypt’s new government and has even criticised other countries for failing to condemn Morsi’s ouster.

Just last week, Egypt’s interim government summoned Turkey’s ambassador, warning him to keep out of Egypt’s internal affairs.

A number of Gulf countries are backing the interim government and are opening up their chequebooks to prove it.

Following meetings in Cairo earlier in this month the United Arab Emirates sent $3bn in aid to Egypt to help the economy. A further $9bn has been pledged by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

But Qatar has raised concern about Morsi’s detention and has not given the new government any financial assistance.

What can the international community do to stop this crisis? And is it a coup or an uprising?

Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, discusses with guests: Sarah El Tantawi, a fellow in Arab Studies at the University of California, Berkeley; Jonathan Guyer, an associate editor of the Cairo Review of Global Affairs; and Charles Dunne, the director of Middle East and Africa studies at Freedom House.

“The Saudis feel threatened by the Muslim Brotherhood, they have for generations. They view the Muslim Brotherhood as an organised threat and they are also in a rivalry with Qatar – so they are reading this the way that they are reading it. Everyone in the region including Erdogan actually, is reading this according to their own world view and what they perceive as their own interest, but I would advocate reading this primarily of course from the point of view from the majority of the Egyptian people…”

– Sarah El Tantawi, a fellow in Arab Studies at the University of California, Berkeley