A Complete Breakdown Of Egypt’s Textbook Coup

On July 3, as the Egyptian military prepared to oust President Mohamed Morsi, FT’s Joseph Cotterill tweeted a chart from Edward Luttwak’s 1968 book  Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook.

At 1:51 p.m. EDT, BI executive editor Joe Weisenthal wrote: “For what it’s worth, if reports are true in Egypt, then this is a textbook coup.”

At 2:57 EDT, the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported that Morsi had been informed he was no longer president. 

Since then there has been a debate about whether the military’s removal of a democratically-elected leader was a unquestionably a coupnot a coup but a people’s revolution, or an ambiguous people’s coup.

In an attempt to put the argument to rest, here’s a breakdown (corresponding to Luttwak’s chart) of why Morsi’s toppling was a textbook coup.


A TEAMS: The military’s first obvious move was taking over the state-run TV stations and then beefing up its presence at the massive headquarters.Troops then deployed near protest sites and key facilities while others blockaded bridges.


B TEAMS: The most important target was the people. To neutralize the potential for chaos, the army deployed troops at Cairo University — a hotbed of Pro-Morsi supporters — and began regulating the crowds.

Troops also took up positions Alexandria and Giza, which are the country’s second and third largest cities.

C TEAMS: Instead of making a 12:00 EDT statement as expected, the military placed a travel ban on the president and other top Muslim Brotherhood figures, Morsi was detained and taken to an undisclosed location.

To round things outs, the military broke into a live Al Jazeera broadcast after Morsi’s removal to arrest reporters and shut down coverage.

As far as coups go, that’s how it’s done. 

The U.S., meanwhile, is “just not taking a position on this specific case,” according to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. That’s because America would have no choice but to cut off its $1.3 billion in military aid assistance to Egypt in the case of a coup.

Matthew Lee of The Associated Press perfectly sums up America’s position (emphasis ours):

The Obama administration signaled Monday that U.S. national security interests will trump its promotion of Egypt’s budding democracy, stressing the importance of continued aid to the Egyptian military, which overthrew the elected president last week.

Notably, a senior U.S. official told Haaretz that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials urged senior U.S. officials “not to respond to Egypt’s coup” by halting the $1.3 billion in military aid.