My attorney points out: Egypt clears a former leader (Mubarak) who stole $70 billion, but sentences to death its first freely elected president (Morsi). I’m not saying he was a good president, but still.
Acemoglu and Robinson nailed this a couple years ago [lightly edited for continuity]:
What would have happened without the military coup that kicked Morsi out of power? We don’t know. It is possible that the economy would have been so deeply damaged that even greater and more violent protests would have erupted. More ominously, the Muslim Brotherhood may have taken over the arteries of power so thoroughly that they would be able to set up their own dictatorship.
But we would say that these are perhaps risks preferable to bringing back the army with the support of the so-called Egyptian liberals now cheering an effective return to a military-controlled society. In fact, the Rebel movement, which collected over 20 million signatures to call for early presidential elections, suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood could have easily been defeated at the polls, if only its opponents could bide their time.
Instead, we have in our hands a military coup that confirms the worst fears of a very large fraction of the population — that the so-called liberal elites and the military that have ruled the country for so long will do anything not to share power with them.
It looks like the path to true democracy in Egypt will be long, arduous and littered with missed opportunities.