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Do Egyptians Consider Morsi's Ousting A 'Coup?'


This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We are continuing our conversation with Heba Gamal, who's been protesting in the streets of Cairo. And Al-Jazeera's Abderrahim Foukara. We're talking about the unrest in Egypt. Where is Morsi, by the way? Does...


MARTIN: ...Anyone know?

FOUKARA: He's still in - go ahead, Heba.

MARTIN: Heba, do you know?

HEBA GAMAL: Word on the street is, he is in the presidential guard. He is in the building that's in the presidential guard.

MARTIN: Heba, I'm going to ask you, what would you like to see happen now? What do you hope will happen now?

GAMAL: I think it's very important for the continued inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood. I personally believe that in order to move forward and not enter a very scary and divisive era, which may be very similar to the 90s here in Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood, or what used to be called the Gama'a, which was - it was operating under at the time, you know, with a lot of terrorist attacks and a lot of bombings.

And also at same time from the other side, a lot of detentions that were taking place and military trials that no one has ever heard of, and huge amounts of human rights violations that were taking place against the Muslim Brotherhood as a group. I believe firmly in the inclusion and open communication with the Muslim Brotherhood. I personally know that I won't vote for the Muslim Brotherhood again, but I think it's important for them to be represented and to continue feeling like they are part of the political platform.

MARTIN: Abderrahim, give us a final thought, if you would, about - give us a sense of how other governments in the region are reacting to this, and what do you think is going to happen next - some of the issues that we should be paying attention to.

FOUKARA: Yeah. There's been a lot of elation in the circles of several governments in the region. Bashar al-Assad - and this is one of the ironies, the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad - remember Morsi had told Bashar al-Assad to step down. Irony of ironies, Morsi's now gone, Bashar is still holding onto power. And he celebrated that in his public statements, Bashar al-Assad, a few days ago. There was also...

MARTIN: For people who don't recall, there has been an incredibly violent and bloody civil war - I think that by now we're all calling it a civil war - going on in Syria, which began with an effort to kind of oust him from his autocratic - increasingly autocratic rule. So...

FOUKARA: ...That's right. But there's also been some elation in the Gulf. The Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, have been extremely skittish of the Muslim Brotherhood because they know that the Muslim Brotherhood was the best organized force in Egypt. It has extensions in the Gulf, and they're more worried about those extensions than they're worried about young Saudis or Emiratis and so on.

So the fact that Morsi has been removed has been celebrated in those countries as the end of any prospect that the Muslim Brotherhood could come back to power. But there's a flipside of that coin, and the flipside is that many off-shoots of the Muslim Brotherhood in the surrounding countries to Egypt and further afield will now look at what's happened in Egypt and they'll say, look, trying to rule through the ballot is no good. We need to explore alternative ways.

There may be, you know, calls to going back to the gun, and that could put the whole region in a very, very dangerous situation. Although, it would also put the Muslim Brotherhood and those groups in grave danger of their existence as political movements.

MARTIN: And finally, the U.S. role. The U.S. is still...

FOUKARA: ...Very complex, and very complicated, and not very clear. The Obama administration was obviously very careful not to call what happened in Egypt a coup, but they were also very clear that they want a civilian government to be put in place as soon as possible. They didn't call it a coup because according to U.S. law, if you called it a coup, you would have to cut U.S. aid to Egypt. And the U.S. aid to Egypt is very important..

MARTIN: ...Which is considerable. Which is considerable.

FOUKARA: It's over a billion dollars a year, in addition to other things. So they don't want to undermine the position of the Egyptian army because they see it as a regional factor of stability. So the U.S. is facing a real dilemma. Should it go with the army moving against Morsi, although, it enjoys great popular support in Egypt, or should it go against the ballot box, having got Morsi to the presidency over a year ago?

MARTIN: This is a very fluid situation, and I thank you both so much for helping us to understand it further. That was Al-Jazeera's Washington bureau chief, Abderrahim Foukara. He often joins us to help us understand events in North Africa and the Middle East. With us from Cairo, Heba Gamal. She is an Egyptian who left San Francisco in 2011.

She was one of the demonstrators in Tahrir Square during the fall of Hosni Mubarak, and she has remained in Egypt with her family. And we caught up with her there. Thank you both so much for speaking with us.

FOUKARA: Great to be with you, Michel.

GAMAL: Thank you so much, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.