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Morsi’s ouster draws a divided response

LONDON — As Egyptians contemplated a new and uncertain political landscape after the military ouster of Mohammed Morsi as president, the country’s partners, neighbors, and supporters seemed divided in their response on Thursday, largely reflecting their own perceptions of the threats they face at home from either militant Islam or their armed forces.

In Damascus, President Bashar Assad of Syria, facing a bloody insurgency that has drawn in radical Muslim fighters opposed to him, praised the Egyptian protesters and said in an interview with a state-run newspaper that the overthrow of Morsi meant the end of “political Islam.”

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The United Arab Emirates, too, expressed “satisfaction” at Morsi’s downfall.

For Western nations, the response to the rapid-fire events in Cairo seemed to touch a vein of realpolitik, pitting concern about military takeovers in principle against a little-disguised unease at the ascendancy of political Islam under Morsi.

As the British foreign secretary, William Hague, put it in London: “We will always be clear that we don’t support military intervention, but we will work with people in authority in Egypt. That is the practical reality of foreign policy.

“It is the problem with a military intervention, of course, that it is a precedent for the future. If this can happen to one elected president, it can happen to another,” Hague said.

“That’s why it is so important to entrench democratic institutions and for political leaders — for all their sakes and the sake of their country — to work on this together to find the compromises they haven’t been able to make in Egypt over the last year.”

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Britain, like the United States, has revised its advice to its nationals traveling to Egypt but has not gone as far as officials in Washington, where the State Department has warned US citizens to “defer travel to Egypt and US citizens living in Egypt to depart at this time because of the continuing political and social unrest.”

Britain has urged its nationals to avoid nonessential travel to Egypt’s main cities, with the exception of Red Sea vacation resorts.

In the Middle East, the military ouster evoked deep sensitivities, largely rooted in the region’s perennial political conflict between secularism and Islam, and in an ambivalent view of military power as both a stabilizing force and a usurper of democracy.

In Turkey, which has a long history of military intervention in political life and whose government is Islamist-led, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Thursday that the generals’ action in Cairo was a “military coup” and “unacceptable.”

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, by contrast, sent official congratulations to Adly Mansour, Egypt’s interim president, on what he called “this transitional phase of its history,” according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.

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