This week's dramatic overthrow of the Egyptian government had so much support from citizens across the nation that can't be called a military coup, according to Frank Wisner, former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt.
"It wasn’t the military that plotted the seizure of the government and grabbed it. It was a massive public uprising that, left unchecked, would have produced great violence," Wisner told David Nelson, guest host of "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"It would have left the military in the miserable position of having to control those demonstrations by force. The cry from the crowd was they wanted new elections … to help decide the country’s future, which has been so troubled."
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Earlier this week, the Egyptian Army seized power
from President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government following weeks of massive protests against them in the streets of Cairo.
Wisner believes the defiance of Morsi and his Muslim political operatives in refusing to meet with demonstrators ignited a dangerous fuse.
"The military was faced with, genuinely overheated situation … It isn’t a coup in any classic sense and, yet, the military played a role in upsetting the government," he said.
The United States must now tread very carefully in how it reacts to the fast-changing events in Egypt.
"We have to ask ourselves, then, finally, what are the interests of the United States? And here the president wisely has waiver authority and has to make a judgment," Wisner said.
"Egypt is the largest and most influential country in the Middle East. Egypt is central to peace with Israel. Egypt’s fate will influence the course of politics elsewhere in the region.
"So we want to be very, very careful before we go out and condemn an event that has, by the most recent polling of Egypt’s best pollsters, 80 percent support in the population."
Wisner, who was U.S. Ambassador to Egypt under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said that despite worries that the nation could be headed towards a civil war, the possibility is slim.
"What is clear is the wave of anger against the government that drove Morsi from power, enjoyed massive, massive public support in the many, many millions of Egyptians," he said.
The toppling of the government has spurred violence in the past 48 hours.
On Friday, a deadly gunfight erupted
in Cairo as thousands of supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi marched on the Republican Guard headquarters during mass rallies against the Islamist's ouster.
"Of course, there’s going to be a counter reaction. There will be incidents," Wisner said.
"[But] we’re talking about thousands at best and maybe even less. So I am unable to predict exactly but I really doubt that Egypt is headed towards a civil war."
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