This multi-award winning channel produces programmes made by volunteers trained by the charity WORLDwrite

Download this program as an MP3 (14.80 MB, 32:28)

Subscribe to our podcasts using your preferred service:

Help with our podcasts

Don’t Shout at the Telly: The Coup in Egypt


While Western politicians have massaged their own moral standing by threatening to bomb Syria, it is worth remembering their contempt for people in the Middle East and love of military dictatorships in general. By failing to call a coup a coup, the West gave the Egyptian military the green light to massacre hundreds of protestors on the streets. Filmed just before the massacre, in this revealing on-the-sofa discussion, Middle East expert Karl Sharro explains the gross betrayal of democratic ideals and huge setback that the coup represents. Despite the inspiration the Arab Spring provided, with the fall of Mubarak in 2011, the seeds of this horrific outcome were there, he explains, in the lack of leadership or political vision. It is astonishing to learn that even so-called liberals now believe Egyptians who are illiterate should lose their right to vote. Today’s military power in Egypt, much loved by Tony Blair, is a disaster for the Egyptian people, Sharro tells us.  Looking to the army as political arbiter can never advance democracy.

Recommended links:

Video Views on the News: Syria

Karl Sharro Blog Karl remarks

Related topics: Debates, Democracy-Brexit, Global, Social Change

Subscribe to our newsletter


Leave a comment now

Sanjeeda Jalil said:

Watching this video bettered my understanding of the coup in Egypt and signifies the importance of democracy. Karl Sharro’s observation on the western role and leadership has put things into perspective of this agenda. The views of everyone in this discussion were quite interesting and I believe democracy is an elaborate thing in society.

Pooja said:

Karl Sharro is a really good at discussing the affairs taking place within Egypt. I found the video very informative and interesting. The points of view of the speakers were very insightful as i gained knowledge of the view on this topic.

Tamanna said:

I agree with the mans thoughts on giving people more freedom in doing things they want to do and standing up for themselves. I think the fact that most of Egypt’s people are made up of young people but they don’t have much of a choice to vote is wrong because everyone’s point of view should count. These kind of things start building tension and anger on the younger generation. they begin to feel a sense of bitterness while growing up.

Yasmin said:

We can’t use the political apathy of so many ‘democratic’ Western countries to try to understand Eygpt; trying to compare the tough hand of Islamists to the much weaker influence of the Church in European states is something school children might do in 100 years time but right now it’s really not relevant. Egypt needs to be understood on its own terms! The Muslim Brotherhood have just been banned by a court in Cairo, is that like banning the BNP? Not really. Does it mean that the courts are dishing out dubious justice? This is what we need to be discussing. Unfortunately people like Sharro don’t get enough air-time

Serene said:

A very meaningful Discussion. Makes you think a lot about what democracy is and should be. I agree with Karl Sharro absolutely and think that the coup threatens democracy. As the people overthrew Mubarak, it should have been the people to overthrow Morsi. That is democracy. The military should not be allowed to forcefully remove an elected president. It reminds me of many troubled years in Pakistan, devastating the country and still not fully recovering.

George said:

Thank you for sending me the link. It is an excellent discussion where many of the central questions are raised and articulately answered by the admirable Karl Sharro The ideas are clear and I don’t quarrel with any of them. I would only add that in terms of realpolitik -the way things actually happen – there has never been an absolutely clear choice between the unquestionable good and the unquestionable bad, and that ,at the moment of the coup, many , including myself, didn’t know how far the Morsi government had exceeded its democratic mandate, or how far the army had support from a disenchated electorate. The geopolitical or realpolitik fear was that the Morsi government would rush into the arms of Iran or further, into the arms of wilder reaches of Islamism. How far that was a realistic fear I don’t know. Even if it was, however, that was no reason to rush to support the coup and in terms of principle – in so far as real states ever act out of principle – there were very firm grounds to condemn it.

One of the most interesting things Sharro said was that a better idea might have been to split the army. This is in fact what happened in Hungary (my country of birth) in 1956. It happened pretty well sponrtaneously as far as we know and in fact the army as a body quickly went over to the revolution. I have no idea whether the circumstances in Egypt were ripe for that, or, if not quite, how long it would have taken to produce such a split. As it is, the situation in Egypt, on the surface, is comparable to that in Hungary 1956, in that people might claim that the army did in fact go over to the revolution, like the Hungarian army did in 1956. I very much doubt that was the case myself (I am sure Karl Sharro would refute any such idea).

The role of the USA and ‘the West’ in general, is usually very complex. Like any body of states with a common interest they pursue those interests and hope as far as pssible to square that with some given principle. The US has been invited to intervene, somehwat against its will, on various occasions: in WW1 and WW2 and in Bosnia. The West, including the US, has the same kind of interest in what goes on in the Middle East as has any country in matters that affect it. The big difference is that the US has great military power and is able to exert economic pressure.

That is realpoolitik and it has been the situation ever since I was born, and presumably long before. I don’t describe it because I like it or support it but because it seems to me the case. In the meantime we have the legitimate interests of the Egyptian people in their own condition. And in this respect Karl Sharro is abslutely right. The coup has legitimised further coups and may have deepened divisions in the country.

In so far as I can judge I think Karl Sharro is essentially right in all he says and that the situation is as he describes it, with the likely consequences he foresees. In many ways the questions he raises are questions for us. How do we respond, if we respond at all, to a situation such as Egypt’s? What effect does that have on our own ideas of democracy, where we are? How do we relate to democracy in whatever form we find it? How do we value it?

Thnak you again for an excellent discussion and congratulations to all who took part in it. I will link to it and embed it at my own blog.

Peter said:

If you’re serious about understanding what’s going on in Egypt and elsewhere today, then this is well worth 32 minutes of your time. Middle East commentator Karl Sharro offers some fresh insights into the recent military coup and the cynical reaction of the West. Our leaders talk incessantly constantly about ‘democracy’ but fail utterly to make a ‘principled stand’ when democracy is on the line.

William said:

If you’re serious about understanding what’s going on in Egypt and elsewhere today, then this is well worth 32 minutes of your time. Middle East commentator Karl Sharro offers some fresh insights into the recent military coup and the cynical reaction of the West. Our leaders talk incessantly constantly about ‘democracy’ but fail utterly to make a ‘principled stand’ when democracy is on the line.

Martyn said:

Really informative and timely discussion. Sharro makes some very incisive points about the coup and the West’s cynical reaction to it.

Sofia said:

To replace a democratically elected government by a military-appointed official is a coup! In a democracy, the opposition can oppose elected political leaders and can even try to use every legal means to remove them from power; however they have to remain loyal to the democratic process to ensure that the system functions.

Piotr said:

The discussion is good and Karl is great at explaining things.