For all the more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger protestations, this coup d’état was about as retro as they come. Troops surrounded state broadcasting headquarters early on, and once the army commander had finished his televised announcement of the government’s demise, the plugs were pulled on the ruling party, silencing its TV stations.
But the choreography of this coup – ousting Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected and only Islamist president, after one year in power – was unusual.
General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief of staff, mobilised extra divisions of no mean significance. As he replaced Mr Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood with a transitional government, he was flanked by the Sheikh of al-Azhar university, the leading Sunni Muslim authority, the Pope of Egypt’s sizeable Coptic Christian minority, Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel peace laureate and leader of Egypt’s liberals, and youthful activists who brought down the army-backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the high spring of the new Arab Awakening.
The calls in Europe to suspend the EU-US trade talks, in response to allegations that the US has been bugging EU offices, reminds me of the scepticism of some American officials, before the talks were even launched. “The only question in my mind,” said one, “is whether the French use their veto in six months time, or in two years time.” The Americans feared that French protectionist instincts would come into play over agriculture or culture. In the event, the Americans have only themselves to blame – since their cyber-snooping has given Europeans plenty to get outraged about.
♦ Keeping Brussels on board in its counter-terrorism data-gathering operation has arguably been Washington’s most important diplomatic concern with the EU. However, this has been put at risk after the recent revelations from Edward Snowden. Indeed, the US and the EU might need couple-therapy.
♦ A Syrian hacktivist has set up an alert system to warn Syrians about incoming missiles – but Assad is already trying to take it down.
♦ A former member of Nirvana and Soundgarden has become a war hero.
♦ Legendary British war photographer Don McCullin recounts his life, capturing international conflicts.
♦David Gardner warns Egyptians cheering the armed forces to remember that “there is no such thing as a liberal coup d’etat”.
♦And as Egypt hurtles further into political crisis, Robert Springborg asks if the army can really control the forces it has unleashed.