President Obama tonight implicitly accepted the military coup in Egypt, issuing a statement that pointedly fails to call for the military to relinquish power immediately and instead points to a “process” that will over time lead the country to a democratically elected government.
Obama’s passive acceptance of the coup is the first positive development in Obama’s policy – if it can be called a policy – toward Egypt during the current crisis. By not reiterating past suggestions of support for Morsi, the Obama administration at least decided not to try to get in the way of a popular revolution that could save Egypt from Islamic extremism.
From the statement by Obama, which was released by the White House this evening:
The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution.
I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters.
Obama’s statement shows that he is trying to have it both ways, saying he is “deeply concerned” by the military’s move and expressing support for democracy while nevertheless acquiescing in the coup d’etat.
Obama even threw in a fangless, nebulous threat for good measure:
Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.
Obama withheld comment all day until after the coup had been completed.