In Arab World, Egypt upheaval elicits both praise and censure

Gulf Arabs greet Egypt's new leader, Turkey slams 'coup.'

By REUTERS
July 4, 2013 19:01
4 minute read.
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani (R) and Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani 370 . (photo credit: REUTERS)

The coup in Egypt and the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood members have been received well among many of the leaders in the region, especially those countries that fear Islamic revolutionary movements or possible uprisings at home.

The Gulf states, with the exception of Qatar, were some of the first countries to congratulate Egypt after the coup, as they feel that the country may now serve as a bulwark against Shi’ite Iran and other radical Islamic movements.

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For Gulf Arab states, which see Egypt as a strategic ally against any threat from non-Arab Iran across the Gulf, the appointment of constitutional court chief Adli Mansour as interim leader was met with congratulations and evident relief.

Saudi King Abdullah sent a message of congratulations on Wednesday “in this critical period of... history,” and even Qatar, the only Gulf Arab state that backed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, welcomed the new leader on Thursday.

King Abdullah also praised the armed forces, saying: “At the same time, we strongly shake hands with the men of all the armed forces, represented by General Abdel Fattah al- Sissi, who managed to save Egypt at this critical moment,” according to Al Arabiya.

The president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, said, “We followed with all consideration and satisfaction the national consensus that your brotherly country is witnessing, and which had played a prominent role in leading Egypt peacefully out of the crisis it had faced.”

Kuwait’s ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, was quoted as praising Egypt’s armed forces for the “positive and historic role” they played in preserving stability.

However, the military overthrow of an elected president drew a guarded response from Iran and condemnation from Turkey. Turkey’s Islamist leadership was often mentioned as a model that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood could have strived for. Furthermore, Turkey’s government recently overcame its own domestic protests, largely because the ruling AK Party took a slower, more patient rout to consolidating power, eventually taking control of the army and security forces, something that the toppled government of Mohamed Morsi failed to achieve.

On the other hand, during Morsi’s year in power, his government rushed to impose its agenda on the country, causing a strong backlash by large segments of the population.

Some analysts believe that if Morsi had followed Turkey’s example, he would possibly still be in power.

Turkey was harshly critical of Egypt’s army, saying its overthrow of Morsi was “unacceptable” – a marked difference from its would-be partners in the European Union, which avoided repeated questions on whether it was a military coup.

“It is unacceptable for a government that has come to power through democratic elections to be toppled through illicit means and, even more, a military coup,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in Istanbul.

The Turkish Hurriyet Daily News quoted Davutoglu calling for the release of Egyptian leaders.

The Turkish daily Today’s Zaman quoted Mehmet Sahim, a Turkish scholar, as saying that the coup “would definitely harm Turkey’s Middle East policies.”

He also said that Turkey’s ruling AK Party would “not be able to maintain the same close relations with the army as it did with Morsi.”

The report also quoted Yasar Yakis, a former Turkish foreign minister and the president of the Ankara-based Center for Strategic Communication, as stating, “The instability in Egypt will make it tough for Turkey to pursue its Syria policy.”

Iran, which sought to repair its strained ties with Egypt after Morsi’s election a year ago, gave a guarded response, calling for the people’s “legitimate demands” to be fulfilled and warning of “foreign and enemy opportunism.”

Morsi visited Tehran on one of his first official trips abroad, but the two countries have found themselves supporting opposite sides of a civil war in Syria that has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones.

“Certainly the resistant nation of Egypt will protect its independence and greatness from foreign and enemy opportunism during the difficult conditions that follow,” Fars news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi as saying.

Syria, fighting to crush a twoyear- old uprising against President Bashar Assad, urged Morsi to step down on Wednesday and realize “that the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people reject him,” Information Minister Omran Zoabi was quoted as saying by state news agency SANA.

An article by Ibrahim al- Amin in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar said that the coup was a broadside to the West and its attempts “to tighten its grip on the Arab region, either by hijacking the rebellions or working to contain them with backroom deals with the likes of the Brotherhood or the military.

The attempt to link the anti- Western Brotherhood in a conspiracy with the US is the latest twist that some are putting on the events in Egypt of the past few days.


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