The Egyptian army and opposition groups have "misjudged" the power of the Muslim Brotherhood, a leading journalist has claimed. The editor of the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, Abdul-Bari Atwan, has said that the army was hoaxed by the military coup it carried out on Wednesday against the freely-elected President Mohamed Morsi.
Atwan said in a TV interview on Friday that the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and Minister of Defence, Colonel General Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, as well as all other army and opposition leaders, were misled by their evaluation of the Islamic movement in Egypt led by the Brotherhood.
"Based on a false estimation of the Islamic movement," said Atwan, "the army removed the elected president and detained him." Describing this move as a "disaster by any criteria", he pointed out that Egypt will pay a "heavy price" in blood and lives for the army coup. "Morsi made mistakes during his year in office, but such mistakes are not comparable with those of the military which carried out the coup that is leading the country into a bloodbath."
Atwan warned that "hundreds of thousands" of Egyptians could lose their lives as a result of the chaos precipitated by the coup. He wondered aloud why the "hypocritical West" is keeping silent after lecturing the Arab world "for years" about the need for democracy. "Is it because the ballot boxes led to Islamists being in power and not governments ready to dance to Western demands?"
It has become clear, he noted, that the US and EU only recognise as liberals those who give up their faith and principles and adopt the neo-liberalism of America and its allies. He said that he was "surprised" to read in the New York Times that the Egyptian opposition's Mohamed ElBaradei, "a product of the US", had already spoken to Secretary of State John Kerry and EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton to enlist their support for the coup.
What, asked Atwan, will President Morsi be charged with by the "interim" government? "He did not kill so much as a mosquito, steal a penny or employ any of his relatives," he insisted, "so why is he being treated like a criminal?" Having met Morsi, added Atwan, "I felt that he was eager to protect Egyptian blood and restore dignity to Egypt and its people."