October 16th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

The Egyptian military's 'pseudo coup'

Editor's Note: Juliette Kayyem is a former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government and a foreign policy columnist for the Boston Globe. She tweets @JulietteKayyem.

By Juliette Kayyem – Special to CNN

Juliette Kayyem

Last Spring, when the world was heralding the events in Egypt, many of us speculated about whether the Egyptian Army's steady hand would mark the beginnings of a pseudo-coup. I never liked the idea that America's interest in supporting the revolutionaries in the street could be so easily placated by the vaguely described Egyptian Army or military.

Now I am troubled by increasing evidence that the military is simply not sticking to its word - delaying timelines and the transition of power. That, coupled with increasing violence, only suggests that Egypt's Arab Spring experience will be much more complicated - more in line with nations like Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.  Maybe Egypt is just on a slower timeline towards unease. While we were busy giving awards to Egyptian freedom advocates - or focused on the plight of our former ally Hosni Mubarak - we may have missed a coup.

But that storyline did not fit with the media enthusiasm. It also was not consistent with America's financial and professional support of the Egyptian military. The storyline does, however, seem to be closer to the truth than we could have ever imagined.

Now, maybe the U.S. can use its considerable financial support of the Egyptian Army to force change - but that will be difficult absent cutting the bank account.

This all means may need a new name for what is going on in Egypt. Is this the first "slow-roll coup" of the 21st Century? The coup that shall not be named? The pseudo-coup?

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Topics: Egypt • Military

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Sharonc

    Fareed, Please educate yourself about the emerging data on the harm that GMOs are doing to the environment, animals and people. GMOs are living up to their advertised goals of increased production. Sudden crop failure and pollution are occurring due to GMOs.

    October 16, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Reply
    • truthseeker

      It would be appropriate to do a related story regarding a number of Indian farmers who committed suicide when their land was ruined after being misled into using genetically engineered seeds that resulted in rendering their land unusable for future crops. Yet another related developing story is that of the Shrilankan and Indian buisiness men and women who are flocking to invest in farming in different African countries. Will they do the same thing there?

      October 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Reply
      • Christopher

        Bull. That story has been debunked many times lately by people who are NOT connected with the GMO makers who have pointed out that the places that they planted these things in were not made period for those GMO's or even non-genetically modified plants of that species.

        October 16, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • 100% STRONGER

      Why the Egyptians Muslim Brotherhood are interfering all the Medias including U?

      October 16, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Reply
    • Appalled

      What's so bad about corn that makes its own insect poison and renders the land useless after the first crop?


      October 16, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Reply

    It is quite true that, the Mubarak Mind-setted Government and Rules are never changed, but physically, we seen Mubarak is gone.

    Just wondering, why did America supplied to Egypt High-Tech and sophisticated WEAPONS?!? In that Region Egypt is the main member of PAN-ARAB and soon or latter the F-16, Abram Tanks, Mustard Gases,..has been thought to be used against ISRAEL, since Egg-Pet doesn't make others in its Region as enemies. Did America knew the consequences when it keep MUSCLING Egg-Pet Weaponry and financially?!? When will America will learn from its past mistakes?!?

    October 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Reply
    • truthseeker

      It looks like you have something to say that we could all benefit from reading. It would be nice if you corrected and re-posted your blog. : ) Thanks

      October 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Reply
      • 100% ETHIO STRONGER!

        Well, I am not hiding any or misapprehension things that appeared in Egypt. We are the information age through live Medias from anywhere into anywhere. No more hiding or Mind bending.

        We, including you seen F-16 fighter Jets, Abram-Tanks, Gas showers...that has been observed throught the World.

        Since you mentioned GMO, well, MONSANTO of course currently being sued by Indian farm Companies. Even before, MONSANTO has been sued by Vietnam Government, about Genetically Modified Organic corns.
        I myself support MONSANTO who has top scientists working in its Company. My reason is since the World Populations are growing faster, we need a Company like MONSANTO to produce enough foods to the Societies. T
        Remember, there are no perfection and MONSANTO will correct its mistakes.

        October 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Mohammed

      Do you uh speaka da inglish?

      October 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Reply
  3. Dave Takaki

    Succinct characterization. Should have mentioned how deep into the country's economy the Army is...

    I suspect that the military gvt is reluctantly transitional, and that there is an inexorable nature to the desires for a more representative government and economy. The demographics of Egypt suggest another struggle that addresses economic inequality will become more evident.

    Perhaps the question is how long can the Army ride before being thrown off.

    October 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Reply
  4. Dave Takaki


    October 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  5. Dave Takaki

    Tantawi must have some cognition that within the Egyptian Army O-6 and below are also restive...

    October 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    There wasn't really a "pseudo coup" on the part of Egypt's military. I wouldn't exclude the possibility of a conspiracy that would bring the Arab Spring to a cold end. Various parties with different goals could join forces. One the one hand there are Sunni groups with an Islamist agenda, supported by the rich GCC countries. On the other hand the Shiite leaders don't see any benefit that the protests continue, for the fear of losing Bashar al Assad. Bahrain doesn't matter so much, but Syria a lot. They want to turn the clock back!

    October 16, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  7. Appalled

    The worst is yet to come in Egypt. They're well on their way to being a full-fledged Islamo fascist state run by fanatical tyrants who are willing to slaughter anyone who does not believe as they do.

    October 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Reply
    • Daniel

      Quite right, Appalled. As long as those leftovers from the Hosni Mubarak regime continue to collaborate with the right-wing thugs in Washington, very little will change in Egypt!

      October 16, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Reply
      • ِAhmed Naguib

        Daniel can't agree more! They only want to sell more and now they are trying to fabricate the whole story behind the alleged Iranian attempt on the life of the Saudi Ambassador in DC, very lame!! They just want to sell more weapons so that they can get away with their shortcomings and failure to provide real solutions to the real problems in the U.S. I call the current democracy in the U.S. blood democracy, where by the whole worlds pays with blood for the so called American Democracy and dream! Well wake up its a nightmare for the entire planet!!!!

        October 17, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • 100% ETHIO STRONGER!

      You got it! Their CAGES are already broken,
      The good sheppard is nowhere to be seen.

      October 16, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  8. ِAhmed Naguib

    I am shocked at Clinton's statements commending the Egyptian Military Council, which reminds us of her statements at the begging of the revolution. The U.S. is still betting on the wrong horse and at the same time is creating more radicalism and enemies in Egypt and the Arab world by their support to the oppressive coup of the SCAF.

    October 17, 2011 at 8:31 am | Reply
    • Daniel

      Quite right, Ahmed. The bottom line here is that NATO wants to maintain it's grip on the Middle East any way it can and that includes supporting these right-wing military leaders like that cursed Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen. Hilary Clinton preaches "democracy" in public but privately backs these right-wing monsters showing her own hypocrisy!

      October 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  9. Delex.

    I bet u, the conspiracy won't last. Egyptian are only waiting to see the military boys exhaust their old-fashioned antics orchestrated by their foreign collaborators. Let them fool on, their end is nigh.

    October 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  10. Citizen from Egypt

    Military Council (SCAF) certainly did not achieve the demands of the revolution, and it is always claimed that he protects the revolution, even though we do not know what protected, it may be protected from itself?!
    SCAF made hostility between the political currents in Egypt and is deceiving the people so he can protect the Mubarak regime and bring them back in new faces.

    October 18, 2011 at 9:31 am | Reply
  11. Lydia

    As a Westerner who visited Egypt shortly after their revolution, I think that they have a long way to go before they have a democracy. They first need to define just what a democracy is. Certainly their women will not be benefiting from any of the new found freedoms . I was in Egypt for 12 days and probably saw about 4 women driving the whole time that I was there.
    How will they handle the fact that there are non Islamic Egyptian citizens? What about their rights?
    How will they deal with it after their election, when everyone does not get the person that they voted for in office?

    October 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  12. Egyptian

    Nice succinct post – just had to comment to correct Lydia's statement that " I was in Egypt for 12 days and probably saw about 4 women driving the whole time that I was there."

    I am not saying that it is an equal society, women still have quite a way to struggle but to say that you saw four women driving while spending 12 days in Cairo is a lie (unless you literally did not spend any time on the streets). Egypt does have quite a bit of modernizing to do but women are allowed to drive and do so with no qualms.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Reply
  13. John Rounsevell

    Why do we blame Islamists for everything? They didn't murder 100,000 innocent civilians in Iraq for their oil...we did. They aren't killing civilians in Afghanistan with drones...we are. They don't have hundreds of bases around the world to protect our oil supplies and surround China...we do. We need to look at our own actions before some crazy trigger-happy general attacks someone with real weapons that can really fight back with WMD.

    November 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  14. charlesse

    И здесь

    January 13, 2012 at 11:34 am | Reply

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