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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 3rd, 2013
06:00 PM ET

Analysis: Next steps for Obama on Egypt

Wednesday's coup that toppled former President Mohamed Morsy prompted hundreds of thousands of people in the streets across Egypt to both applaud and assail the military's decision to step into the country's political fray for the second time in slightly more than two years.

"Normally revolutions either happen by the bullet or the ballot, and this is really more by the bullhorn," said former chief of staff for the Defense Department Jeremy Bash.

It creates a delicate situation for the Obama administration. The recent protests are a continuation of the revolution that began in early 2011, said Bash. Even then, Obama was in a tough spot.

"Mubarak had been our historic ally, we had interests in maintaining stability in Egypt," said Bash. "At that time the president decided ultimately to push Mubarak out and go with the street. But here we have a democratically elected Morsy. The administration has been trying to work with the Morsy government. And there's been fits and starts."

The Morsy government maintained the peace treaty with Israel, the passage through the Suez Canal, and good operations on counter terrorism.

But, said Bash, Morsy had an Islamic agenda, forced through a new constitution last year, ignored the military's ultimatum to find a solution to the deadly unrest or step aside, and did not listen to the street protests.

"The question is really how far out there will the president go to say that he has agreed with what happened here, and that he is now backing the new political paradigm in Egypt," said Bash.

Adly Mansour, head of the country's Supreme Constitutional Court, will replace Morsy as Egypt's interim president, Egypt's top military officer, Gen. Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi said Wednesday.

"The question really is how quickly they hand this over to civilian leaders. The president does have a decision to make about whether to formally label this a coup, and thereby suspend U.S. assistance. I think that would be a mistake," said Robert Satloff, of the Washington Institute of Near East Policy.

"That would be a mistake to label this action a coup and to penalize the Egyptians for what just happened. The opportunity is to turn a leaf, and see whether or not civilian leadership can emerge and an orderly constitutional process take place. We have to do it right the second time, because our engagement with the military the first time, two years ago, led to this," said Satloff.

For more analysis, check out the video above.

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