Egyptian Coup Throws Question Mark Over Islamists' Prospects in Region

Regional monarchs pleased


It was a Ramadan gift with a difference: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates dipped into their oil revenues this week to stump up a cool $12bn (£8bn) to bail out cash-strapped Egypt – a swift reward for the army's removal of President Mohamed Morsi and the stunning blow to his Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsi's removal was a big moment in the unfinished story of the Egyptian revolution. But it is also posing troubling questions for Islamists elsewhere. Can they hold on to power where they have it or win it where they do not? And does the coup against the democratically elected leader of the Arab world's largest country – albeit an unpopular and incompetent one – mean that others will shun the ballot box and turn to violence?

Egypt's Brotherhood is calling it a "naksa" (setback in Arabic). "It is like 9/11 in its magnitude," argues the independent Saudi historian Madawi Al Rasheed. "The Muslim Brothers managed to repackage themselves as moderate Islamists. Hopes were raised after the 2011 uprisings and now they are back at square one."