An Analysis of the US Discourse and EU Policy towards the July 2013 Military Intervention in Egypt

Gümüş A.

Balıkesir Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi, vol.24, no.46, pp.1093-1106, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


The Arab Uprisings in the regional sense came to a halt with the July 2013 military intervention in Egypt. The military intervention constituted a challenge for the global actors in terms of the level of their commitment to the principles and norms such as democracy and human rights. This article analyzes the US discourse towards the military intervention in Egypt by using the method of discourse analysis. Discourse analysis focuses on the reflexive relationship between discourse and context. Thus, the chaotic Egyptian context offers a good test for the US foreign policy. Furthermore, the EU policy during the Arab Uprisings will be addressed as a point of comparison for the US due to its normative character. Despite the support for democratic values and norms at the discursive level, the US foreign policy prioritized the longstanding alliance with Egypt and the Egyptian military based on shared interests. Naming the military intervention as a “coup” would lead to both political and legal consequences like cutting off the aid to the Egyptian military. In addition to the longstanding alliance, the legal consequences of a coup, possible effects of the US position on the European and regional actors as well as the need for keeping its reputation as a reliable ally contributed to cautious discourse and interest-based policy of the US. The US call for returning to a democratic order meant the acceptance of the results of the military intervention in Egypt and the maintenance of the discourse of “democracy promotion”. On the other hand, the EU policies during the Arab Uprisings also reflected a gap between rhetoric and practice, and they ended in another missed opportunity for asserting its normative power. As a result, the military intervention in Egypt confirmed the primacy of interests rather than norms and principles for the Western actors.