You say coup, I say revolution. No longer. But that was the case on July 3, 2013, when Egypt’s military chief Abdel Fatah El Sisi went on TV to read the statement that ended elected President Mohamed Morsi’s one-year tenure.
Words are powerful political tools but the linguistic conundrum over coup and revolution seems to be forgotten now in the context of Egypt. El Sisi (who prefers to be called ‘Mr’ now rather than ‘General’) has been travelling the world, winning plaudits – and more crucially, contracts and investor confidence.
Just days ago he was in Berlin and even though it has been very critical of the human rights situation in Cairo, Mr El Sisi’s conversations with German chancellor Angela Merkel were largely about cooperation.
And doing business.
Big deals were signed in Germany, not least the €8 billion contract with Siemens to increase power generation capacity in Egypt.
Germany is not alone in investing hope – and money – in Mr El Sisi’s Egypt. Recently, Egypt conducted its first international bond sale for five years and sold $1.5 billion of 10-year bonds at a good yield, drawing more than $4.5bn in investor demand. Add to that the improved outlook for Egypt according to an international credit ratings agency and it’s clear that the world has quite forgotten the “coup” vs “revolution” kerfuffle of two years ago.
Remember the tortuous statements of the time when words didn’t fit the reality? The removal of Mr Morsi, who had seemed increasingly autocratic with every month in office, somehow seemed to be revolutionary even though he was elected and the man who removed him was a khaki-clad general.
But the anti-Morsi protests had been so big – drawing millions – that it seemed revolutionary (not reactionary) that a military man had removed Egypt’s only elected president. Like most military rulers, he had promised “early elections” and declared the constitution suspended.
Were the events of July 3, 2013 a subversion of democracy or its expression?
Words don’t seem to matter anymore in relation to Mr El Sisi’s Egypt.