It is tough to watch the news when you see respected journalists like Wolf Blitzer getting the story wrong. When CNN finally decided to pay attention to the news out of Egypt (they were busy doing wall-to-wall coverage of the George Zimmerman trial), this is what Wolf told his audience:
BLITZER: Huge breaking news. Historic news out of the Egypt. A military coup in Egypt ousting the President Mohamed Morsy just a year after he became the country’s first, first democratically elected leader. Troops are in control of key points in Cairo. There is pandemonium in the city’s Tahrir Square where opponents of the Islamist leader, they are celebrating big time.
Military coup? Pandemonium? That’s not what those of us following the news from international outlets were seeing. Simply put, although Morsy was democratically elected, people were not happy with him. According to Mohamed Soliman, one of the Egyptian opposition leaders and a leader of the Egyptian youth “June 30 Movement,” Morsy broke three key promises since he was elected:
- Restructure the constitution drafting assembly to include all sectors of Egyptian society
- Appoint three Vice Presidents including a Coptic, a woman, and a young revolutionary leader
- Form a national united government
Egyptians also realized that the current administration could not help fix the basic problems the country had: “electric power shortage, fuel shortage and inflation.” So the people who protested the previous administration (Hosni Mubarak) went back to the streets. They wanted changes quickly, especially after they saw how the new constitution would affect them.
Katrina Lantos Swett, the Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and her team analyzed an English translation of constitution from Egypt Independent and concluded that “Egypt’s new constitution includes problematic provisions pertaining to the religion-state relationship, religious freedom and related liberties guaranteed under international law.”
People in Egypt were quickly realizing that they needed to stop these changes before they went even further. A petition by an opposition group collected over 22 million signatures to withdraw confidence from President Mohamed Morsy and hold early presidential elections. Peaceful protests turned violent when pro-Morsy forces got involved. The military finally intervened by asking the president to listen to the people. He had 48 hours to do so.
The president refused at first, and to avoid a civil war, the military removed Morsy from power and appointed Chief Justice Adly Mansour as the interim president and told him to form a transitional technocratic government.
Here’s how calling it a coup makes this a bigger issue, especially for the US Administration and how the US does business internationally. Back to Wolf, who is now discussing the situation with Dan Lothian, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:
LOTHIAN: You know, one of the key questions that we will be listening for is how the White House will define what happened in Egypt. If in fact it is a coup, then, will that impact the amount of aid that the U.S. gives to Egypt in the amount of more than $1.5 billion, Wolf.
So while CNN and other media outlets call it a coup, the US government is more realistic about the definition of what happened there. All because calling it a coup means suspending all U.S. military and economic assistance to Egypt, totaling about $1.5 billion a year.
Egyptian American journalist and columnist, Ahmed Fathi, quoted Nader Tadros: Founder and Director of People’s Advocacy, voicing what may be the general international opinion of what actually happened in Egypt:
TADROS: The 30+ million people who took to the streets in the past few days, and those who voluntarily signed the Tamarod petition, make it VERY LEGITIMATE to impeach Morsi! THIS IS NOT A COUP, this is carrying out the will of the people.
Wolf and others can continue calling it a coup and splitting hairs about the definition. But at the end of the day, unless the US Government calls it a coup, what happened in Egypt was a continuation of the revolution. Like in many other places in the world right now, the people are tired of broken promises. If their elected leaders are not doing what is best for them, the people will voice their displeasure, loud, clear and out in the streets.