World leaders put Egypt on notice over democracy

World leaders have generally reacted with caution to the military coup in Egypt on Wednesday that overthrew President Mohammed Morsi. Most leaders avoided calling it a coup. Some Middle East powers came out in support of the military's action and some denounced it.

Coup leads to both anger and acceptance in Mideast

Egypt's power shift

10 years ago
Duration 2:53
CBC's Ann MacMillan with international reaction to the forced removal of Egypt's first democratically elected president

World leaders have generally reacted with caution to the military coup in Egypt on Wednesday that overthrew President Mohammed Morsi.

The spokesman for Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, Gehad El-Haddad, speaking on Bloomberg Television, challenged those leaders, "Are you going to stick with democracy and support it or are you going to back and legitimize a military coup that just ousted the first ever democratically elected president of Egypt?"

Most leaders avoided calling it a coup. Some Middle East powers came out in support of the military's action and some denounced it, while Israel did not take a position.

Here's a roundup from around the globe, starting in the Middle East.


Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Egyptian President Muhammed Morsi had formed an emerging alliance, leading Turkey to slam the democratically elected Egyptian leader's overthrow by the military as 'unacceptable' and call for his release from house arrest. (Associated Press)

"The toppling of a government that came into office through democratic elections, through methods that are not legal — and what is worse, through a military coup — is unacceptable, no matter what the reasons," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a televised statement.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had formed an emerging alliance with Egypt's Morsi. The Brotherhood considers Erdogan's government an Islamist success story. In June, Turkey was hit by a wave of protests against Erdogan's perceived authoritarianism and his attempts to impose conservative views.

Davutoglu, who cut short a visit to Asia to return for consultations with Erdogan on developments in Egypt, also called for the immediate release of Morsi and his allies under arrest.


Morsi's government had ended more than three decades of diplomatic estrangement with Iran that followed the 1979 revolution, but Iran responded cautiously after the coup. The two countries have been at odds over Syria, with Iran backing the Bashar al-Assad government and Morsi the rebels. Some analysts view Morsi's attendance at a Brotherhood meeting that called on Egyptians to join the holy war in Syria to overthrow Assad as a turning point in the Egyptian military's decision to overthrow Morsi.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi called on Egypt to "protect its independence and greatness from foreign and enemy opportunism during the difficult conditions that follow," according to the Fars news agency.


Assad called the coup a "great achievement," which marked "the fall of what is called political Islam," according to the Thawra newspaper. "Anywhere in the world, whoever uses religion for political aims or to benefit some and not others, will fail," Assad said.


Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki expressed support for the Egyptian people's choices and congratulated Egypt's interim president, a spokesman said. The spokesman, Ali al-Moussawi, added that Iraq is "looking forward to boosting bilateral relations" and is "certain that the new president will move on with the new plan in holding elections and safeguarding national reconciliation."

French President Francois Hollande, left, addresses reporters during a joint press conference with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, right, at the presidential palace in Carthage, Tunisia, July 4. Marzouki says the military intervention in Egypt 'is totally unacceptable,' while Hollande says the 'democratic process has stopped and must return.' (Hassene Dridi/Associated Press)


In Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, the ruling Ennahda party denounced what it termed a "coup against legitimacy" in Egypt. President Moncef Marzouki said, "Military intervention is totally unacceptable and we call on Egypt to ensure that Morsi is physically protected."

But Tunisia's biggest secular opposition party, Nida Touns, saluted "the victory of the Egyptian people."


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his cabinet ministers "not to release public statements or grant interviews" on the events in Egypt, Haaretz newspaper reported. However, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz told Israeli Army Radio, "It is an Egyptian matter; we must worry about our own interests, and I am sure we are doing just that."

United Kingdom

British Prime Minister David Cameron said "we never support" military intervention.

"But what we need to happen now in Egypt is for democracy to flourish, and for a genuine democratic transition to take place," he added.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said that "the problem with a military intervention, of course, is that it is a precedent for the future. And if this can happen to one elected president, it can happen to another."


President François Hollande, on a visit to Tunisia, said that next door in Egypt "the democratic process has stopped and must return."

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius expressed hope for the promised election, "so that the Egyptian people can freely choose their leaders and their future."

Neither man directly addressed the coup.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, in Athens, on July 4, described Morsi's ouster as a 'major setback for democracy in Egypt.' (Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press)


German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle described Morsi's ouster as a "major setback for democracy in Egypt" and warned that "political detentions and a political wave of repression must be avoided at all cost."


"We consider it important for all political forces in Egypt to exercise restraint," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the problems should be solved in a democratic framework.


Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying ambiguously stated that China "respects the choice of the Egyptian people."

"No matter how the situation evolves, the relationship between China and Egypt will not change," she added.

United States

While world leaders express concern about democracy in Egypt, soldiers secure an area of Cairo where Muslim Brotherhood supporters have gathered to support ousted president Mohammed Morsi, July 4. (Hassan Ammar/Associated Press)

President Barack Obama held a July Fourth meeting with members of his national security council on Thursday to discuss Egypt.

Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said that U.S. officials had conveyed to their Egyptian counterparts "the importance of a quick and responsible return of full authority to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible; a transparent political process that is inclusive of all parties and groups; avoiding any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters; and the responsibility of all groups and parties to avoid violence."

In a statement the day before, Obama said, "we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian armed forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian Constitution."

He also ordered a review of "the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the government of Egypt."


In a statement that avoided taking a stand on the coup, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said July 3, "Canada firmly believes that implementing a transparent democratic system that respects the voices of its citizens, and that encourages and respects the contributions of civil society and all others segments of the population, including religious minorities, is the best way to restore calm and give all Egyptians a stake in the future stability and prosperity of Egypt."

Morsi supporters chant slogans during a rally, in Cairo, July 4. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for 'an end to all violence, especially sexual violence against women.' (Hassan Ammar/Associated Press)

United Nations

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a July 4 statement on Egypt "expressed deep concern about military intervention into civilian and constitutional affairs."

In a conversation with the Egyptian foreign minister, Ban "called for an end to all violence, especially sexual violence against women."

African Union

A Friday meeting of the African Union's peace and security council is likely to implement the AU's usual response and suspend Egypt, an AU official told Reuters. "The belief is that the doctrine will be applied, which is suspension for any country where an unconstitutional change has taken place," the official said.

With files from Reuters and Associated Press