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Military Coup in Egypt

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Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Photo, Reuters TV

If there were any doubts whether last week's political actions in Egypt i.e. the Supreme Court dissolving the popularly elected parliament and SCAF, the military council in charge of the interim government installing martial law over the country a day prior to the Court's decision looked suspiciously like a coup, this mornings actions taken by the military council all but sealed the deal, bringing absolute military rule over the country.

Oh yes, there was a presidential runoff election held over the weekend with the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohamed Morsi the projected winner over the military's favored candidate Ahmed Shafiq, the last foreign minister under the deposed Hosni Mubarak's regime.

But with Morsi's likely victory and ascension to the presidency, the military council acted pre-emptively and "issued an interim constitution granting itself broad power over the future government." [1] With this move by the generals "Their charter grants them the power to control the prime minister, lawmaking, the national budget and declaration of war, without any supervision or oversight." [2]

That ladies and gentlemen is a coup by the military with unmistakable words representing their absolute power.

Such a declaration pretty much makes the President of Egypt all but a ceremonial leader. As Hossam Bahget, the director of the "Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights" succinctly put it, "Under the military's charter, the president appeared to be reduced to a powerless figurehead." [3]

Meanwhile, as the Brotherhood took a brave face countering the military's power grab with chants of "Down, down with military's rule" at Morsi's campaign headquarters, it was left to Mohamed El Beltagy, a Brotherhood member of the now dissolved parliament who said it all, "The military's moves were a new episode of a complete military coup against the revolution and the popular will". [4]

Nathan Brown, an expert on Egyptian affairs at George Washington University said in an email message, "It brings back martial law and protects the military from any public, presidential or parliamentary scrutiny. And it perpetuates the general's dominance of the political system." [5]

Mokhtar El Ashry, who heads the Brotherhood's legal committee said, "It is a coup. They are not playing legally. It might take pressure from the streets." [6]

That last sentence by Ashry may be the only tactic left for the Egyptian people to take. Protests in Tehrir Square in Cairo worked in February 2011 as the people took to the streets and brought down Hosni Mubarak as the Egyptian military at the time refused to fire on the Egyptian people protesting, backed the rebellion and ended with Mubarak stepping down.

This time it will be military rulers themselves needing to be overthrown; an all together different prospect.

[1] "Egypt's Military Cements Its Powers as Voting Ends", by David D. Kilpatrick, "The New York Times", June 17, 2012

[2]   See footnote #1

[3]   See footnote #1

[4]   See footnote #1

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