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Egypt: The coup began on the day Mubarak stepped down

A file photo dated July 31, 2013 shows a female protester supporting Mohammed Morsi holds a banner reading 'Against Military Coup' in Rabia Adaweya Square in Cairo, Egypt [Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency]
A file photo dated July 31, 2013 shows a protester supporting holding a banner reading 'Against Military Coup' in Rabia Adaweya Square in Cairo, Egypt [Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency]

The Egyptian Military’s coup against the democratically elected government of Mohammad Morsi, on July 3, 2013 was organized in advance at the end of the Mubarak regime. Even as protestors signalling victory and drinking in celebration in the streets across all of Egypt the Military Council was planning for the coup against the revolution.

The truth of this was made clear by one of its members during the military rule, when he said, “This is the sweat of the military and we will defend it with blood.” This is indeed what happened during the massacres that occurred later, including the Rabaa, Nahda, and other massacres.

Yes, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) began planning for the coup from that first night and it issued a constitutional declaration to achieve this. It divided the protestors into rival factions and then took advantage of them.

Instead of continuing to work together, each different group began to claim that they were at the heart of the January 25th Revolution. The Council succeeded in spreading incitement and division amongst those who were friends not too long ago and who did not distinguish between secularists or Muslims.

They had all joined hands in harmony until one day; these hands began to harm each other given the fear and incitement spread amongst them by the Military Council.

The Council was disturbed by the image of the Christian citizen pouring water into the hands of his Muslim fellow Egyptian so he could make ablutions and pray.  They were also disturbed by the Muslims’ silence during the Christian hymns and their prayers, out of respect for their rituals.  So they carried out the Maspero massacre in front of the television building, killing about 25 Christian citizens with the army’s tanks.

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Sedition was spread when a television presenter claimed that the Christians were attacking the army and she called on the people of the area to take to the streets to defend their national army. This was reinforced by a similar call from the Muslims and the Christians staged a sit-in in front of the television buildings, along with some priests, chanting sectarian chants.

“Kandahar Friday,” as some called it, was not far off from deepening this division and provoking fear and terror in the hearts of the Christians towards the Islamists. Add to this some of the isolated incidents that occurred, such as the Salafist who cut a man’s ear off or the man who kidnapped a young Christian woman and forced her to embrace Islam, etc., and the media’s intensified focus and highlight of these incidents, thus fanning the fire of sedition, and the societal division is deepened.

SCAF managed the transitional period with great malice, deliberately causing chaos in the country and setting fire to some important buildings such as the Egyptian Scientific Institute, which a television presenter reported before it even happened! The satellite channels broadcasted live around the clock when such events occurred, and television screens were filled with scenes of fire burning here and there, causing fear amongst the people.

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The SCAF sought to achieve the goal of having the people hate the revolution and they succeeded in extinguishing the spark of the revolution in the people’s hearts, especially after the events as the Council of Minister, Mohammad Mahmoud, Al-Abbasiya, and the pre-organised Port Said Stadium massacre, where dozens of young innocent youth were killed

The success of the Muslim Brotherhood in the legislative and presidential elections, the Military Council put into place several hindrances and obstacles to sabotage them. It dissolved the House of Representatives by means of a ruling from the Supreme Constitutional Court, which acted as one of its tools in combating and aborting the revolution.

This was before it held a second round of presidential elections after confirming that the Brotherhood’s candidate, Dr Mohamed Morsi had won. It also issued a constitutional declaration on the night of the elections that effectively paralysed the movement of the upcoming president, making him unable to make any decision without referring back to SCAF. This was rejected in the past by all of the revolutionary forces at the beginning of the revolution, at the height of its strength, when it was known as the El-Selmi Document.

After Dr Mohamed Morsi won the first free and fair elections held in Egypt, on 24 June, 2012, he became the first civilian president elected in Egypt’s 7,000-year history. The doors of the House of Representatives, where he was supposed to take the presidential oath before the people’s representatives, as it customary, were closed to him. So instead, he went to take the oath before the entire nation, in Tahrir Square, the place of the revolution. This gave new momentum to the revolution, as he opened his arms to the masses, who came from far and wide to fill the entire square. He stood there without a bulletproof vest as he had promised.

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It was after this that the hidden battle began between him and the Military, although it was apparent to those who have political insight and use it to read into the events. This Council insisted on remaining the de facto ruler of the country, even if behind the scenes or behind the civilian ruler, who would act as a front or image, and no more. They wanted all of the authority to remain in their hands and wanted to control everything.


Therefore, when President Mohamed Morsi issued a presidential decision to annul the decision to dissolve the House of Representatives, immediately after taking office and called for the House of Representatives to convene, the Military Council used the Supreme Constitutional Court to reject this.

A hundred days after President Morsi took office, some of the forces that pretended to be revolutionary forces, despite being born, raised and bred by the intelligence services, called for demonstrations to overthrow him. However, a week before that, on a suspicious and tragic incident occurred. The details and circumstances surrounding the incident still have not been revealed.

This incident was the murder of 16 soldiers while they broke their fast during Ramadan. This angered the people, and during the funeral for these 16 soldiers, Prime Minister Dr Hisham Qandil was attacked, and President Morsi was taken back to the Palace and he was not allowed to attend the funeral under the pretext of preserving his life from the wrath of the masses. This was the first failed coup attempt.

A file photo dated July 4, 2013 shows a female supporter of Mohammed Morsi gesturing as she holds a portrait of him in Rabia Adaweya Square a day after the military coup in Cairo, Egypt. ( Mohammed Elshamy - Anadolu Agency )

A file photo dated July 4, 2013 shows a female supporter of Mohammed Morsi gesturing as she holds a portrait of him in Rabia Adaweya Square a day after the military coup in Cairo, Egypt. ( Mohammed Elshamy – Anadolu Agency )

The intensity of the conflict between the elected civilian president and the military council grew, as less than a week after the Rafah incident, President Morsi annulled the complementary constitutional declaration and referred Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi and Lieutenant General Sami Annan to retirement in a dangerous precedent that no one expected. The people were very happy, but the irony here is that it was not welcomed by the civil forces that held up puppets of the two men in Tahrir Square during the military rule, hanging them with ropes, calling for their execution.

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The same happened when he issued an order dismissing the Attorney General from his post and appoint a new one, which was a popular demand, which the protestors in the January Revolution ha demanded. They had held up his picture in the Square and demanded that he be dismissed and even prosecuted. However, when President Morsi met this demand, they had a different opinion, as the civil forces, headed by the candidate who lost in the elections, Hamdeen Sabbahi, rejected his dismissal and went to the Attorney General’s office to support him.

All the civil forces gathered in one front called the National Salvation Front, rallying against the rule of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in general after the issuing the constitutional declaration. This was followed by the second coup attempt in the events at the Al-Ittihadiya Presidential Palace, the absence of the security forces from their positions, and their failure to protect the palace. They even brought a winch to remove one of its doors, but this second coup attempt failed. The Tamarod Movement, backed by the intelligence, funded by the UAE, and blessed by Saudi Arabia and Israel, because they felt an existential threat to their thrones and entities from the continued rule and success of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is therefore not strange for them to unite in their fears and goals, just as it was not strange for the civil forces’ goals to become one, even though not too long ago, they were calling for the fall of the military rule. However now, they have the same goal of the military, i.e. to rid themselves of the Brotherhood’s rule and eliminate them. Therefore, they formed and alliance together and the military took advantage of them, using them as a civilian cover for their military coup, for their coup to appear to the world to be a popular revolution. They were the bridge used by the military’s tanks to ride into power, even though the civilian forces thought the military forces would hand the authority over to them on a silver platter.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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