By Andrew Harrod:
The Egyptian military’s recent removal from office of Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi “was not a coup,” judged the former United States Air Force lieutenant colonel and Middle East expert Rick Francona, but rather the “people rising up.” Francona spoke at Washington, DC’s National Press Club during an October 1, 2013, panel featuring national security experts who had just completed a three-day visit on behalf of the Westminster Institute. The panel expressed dismay that the United States was not properly responding to developments in country described by Westminster Institute executive director Katherine Gorka as “pivotal” to American interests in the region.
Retired United States Army Major General Paul E. Vallely referenced a popular Egyptian understanding of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government’s fall as a “second revolution” following the “first revolution” ousting Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. Katherine’s husband, counterinsurgency expert Sebastian Gorka, noted that a petition presented to Morsi calling for early elections had gathered 22 million signatures. Subsequently an estimated 33 million had taken to the streets to call for Morsi’s removal in early July 2013 in a country of 85 million.
Vallely’s army colleague, the former colonel and military commentator Ken Allard, discussed a popular Egyptian perception of MB as “terrorists” given their treatment of women and minorities. Francona in particular cited anti-Christian violence by MB supporters that destroyed 1,000 Christian homes after Morsi fell. Allard likewise discussed the delegation’s meeting with the Coptic Church’s Pope Tawadros II, a man “who watched his churches burn.” Many Egyptians additionally felt that the MB in power merely “governed for themselves,” Sebastian Gorka related.
As a result, the Egyptian military commander General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi spoke of a “civil war” absent Morsi’s removal in a meeting with Gorka and the other panelists. This was particularly true given that there was “no impeachment vehicle” in the old Egyptian constitution, as Vallely noted, a provision now contemplated for a new constitution. The “Egyptians are more united in” supporting the military’s actions “than we might think,” Francona judged. Everyone with whom the delegation spoke similarly surprised Sebastian Gorka because they “sounded like they were coordinating their message” but were not.
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