Egypt: Now that’s what I call a coup

Back in my day, a military coup d’état was a quiet affair. We had one when I was a kid living in Ecuador in the early ’60. One day, my parents informed me there had been a “coup.” I had never heard the word. They told me it was like a revolution — the president was gone, and a military junta was in charge. (Then they had to define “junta.” It was like a committee…)

A revolution? I went to the window and looked out. Same old street, nothing interesting going on. I had expected riots, violence, surging humanity. (The story I heard later was that they just let the president have a bit too much too drink — something that wasn’t hard — put him on an airplane, and let him wake up in Panama.)

In Egypt, they known how to have the kind of coup that I was expecting when I looked out that window. Millions surging in the streets. The military moving in, shutting down demonstrations, taking over state media, and tossing out the president who was so defiant, just last night. The latest, from the BBC:

The head of Egypt’s army has given a TV address, announcing that President Mohammed Morsi is no longer in office.

Gen Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said the constitution had been suspended and the chief justice of the constitutional court would take on Mr Morsi’s powers.

Flanked by religious and opposition leaders, Gen Sisi said Mr Morsi had “failed to meet the demands of the Egyptian people”.

Anti-Morsi protesters in Cairo gave a huge cheer in response to the speech….

TV stations belonging to Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood went off air at the end of the speech….

The ousted leader’s current whereabouts are unclear…

See, now that’s a coup. Meanwhile, Morsi fights back on Twitter and Facebook. This sets up an interesting conflict between the old and the new: Is the Tweet mightier than the army? I love Twitter, but I’m old school; I’m betting on the big battalions this time.

What does it all mean, Mr. Natural? For the United States, it’s a touchy situation. This piece, written before the coup actually took place, sets out how touchy:

Over the past two years, post-revolution Egypt has been a policy minefield for the Obama administration, which has struggled to balance its support for a democratic transition with its need to preserve its interests in the region.

The latest chapter of Egypt’s fraught political transition, however, has left the administration in perhaps its most precarious position yet..

As Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi weathers a storm of opposition that could pave the way for a military coup, Washington and its ambassador in Cairo have emerged as lightning rods. Those calling for the dismissal of Morsi say the United States became too cozy with the Muslim Brotherhood, the political and social movement that brought the Islamist leader to power. The Brotherhood, meanwhile, warns that the United States is failing to speak out loudly and clearly against a military coup in the making.

After voicing support for Morsi, the Obama administration appeared to distance itself from him this week, with the White House issuing a statement saying that President Obama had told the embattled Egyptian leader in a phone call that the United States “does not support any single party or group.”

That may sound sort of hapless, but put yourself in the president’s position: Quick, who are the good guys in this mess? Not an easy question to answer…

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