Egypt’s Crisis Was No Military Coup, Ambassador to U.S. Says

Egypt’s ambassador to the U.S., Mohamed Tawfik, denied that the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Mursi constituted a coup and said elections will happen as quickly as possible.

“Egypt has not undergone a military coup, and it is certainly not run by the military,” Tawfik said on ABC’s “This Week” program that aired today. “Today there is an interim president in place.”

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration has avoided describing the military takeover in Egypt as a coup because that could force a cutoff in $1.55 billion in annual U.S. aid to the nation. A U.S. law bars “any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by a military coup d’etat or decree,” or a coup “in which the military plays a decisive role.”

Egypt’s interim leader, Adly Mansour, is seeking to pull together a government to restore order. Violent protests in Cairo and elsewhere over the military’s ouster of Mursi have raised doubts about prospects for an eventual accommodation that would allow the Muslim Brotherhood, which supports Mursi, to compete in new elections.

The Obama administration has said that the U.S. is not aligned with and doesn’t support any particular Egyptian political party or group.

Egypt’s Tawfik said on ABC that members of the Muslim Brotherhood “need to acknowledge the mistakes that they made,” and should join the national dialogue so elections can take place “as quickly as we possibly can put it together.”

“We need everybody to be in the process,” Tawfik said. “Let us look ahead to the future. There is room for everyone in Egypt, but there is no room for violence, there is no room for incitement to hatred and incitement to commit acts of violence.”

Street Protests

In rejecting the word “coup” to describe what happened, Tawfik said Egyptian leaders had taken action to avert a violent crackdown on anti-Mursi protests by “over 15 million people in the streets.”

Mursi, ignoring the protesters’ calls, “whipped up religious fervor among his supporters, and there was violence in the air,” Tawfik said. “After more than 20 people have been killed, leaders from Egyptian parties, from Egyptian religious establishments, from the military, they came together, they said we have to stop this. Otherwise, violence will spiral out of control.”

The Obama administration has urged the Egyptian military to stop using heavy-handed tactics against the Muslim Brotherhood, according to two U.S. officials who asked not to be identified commenting on private communications. They said the U.S. is concerned that some in the military may want to provoke the Islamists to violence and provide a rationale for crushing the movement once and for all.

Such a move would fail and probably prompt a shift to al-Qaeda type terrorist tactics by extremists in the Islamist movement in Egypt and elsewhere, the U.S. officials said.

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