The Cable

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Cairo Embassy tweeter warns of ‘dictatorship’ in Egypt

The Cairo Embassy Twitter feed is at it again. Today, the embassy implied via social media that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy was on the road to becoming a new dictator. "The Egyptian people made clear in the January 25th revolution that they have had enough of dictatorship #tahrir," @USEmbassyCairo tweeted Tuesday morning in a not-so-subtle ...

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The Cairo Embassy Twitter feed is at it again.

Today, the embassy implied via social media that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy was on the road to becoming a new dictator.

"The Egyptian people made clear in the January 25th revolution that they have had enough of dictatorship #tahrir," @USEmbassyCairo tweeted Tuesday morning in a not-so-subtle reference to Morsy's decree that his edicts are no longer subject to judicial review.

The Cairo Embassy Twitter feed is at it again.

Today, the embassy implied via social media that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy was on the road to becoming a new dictator.

"The Egyptian people made clear in the January 25th revolution that they have had enough of dictatorship #tahrir," @USEmbassyCairo tweeted Tuesday morning in a not-so-subtle reference to Morsy’s decree that his edicts are no longer subject to judicial review.

The tweet was retweeted 160 times and elicited a discussion over social media in which @USEmbassyCairo was actively engaged.

"@USEmbassyCairo So why did you support the brotherhood regime along this period and you admit now it is dictatorial ?," tweeted Amr Alaa (@amralaa_2008).

"@amralaa_2008 We never supported any individual group or politician and we will not do so," the embassy tweeted back.

The embassy’s reference to "dictatorship" seemed much stronger than the State Department’s carefully worded statement reacting to Morsy’s decree, in which Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, "One of the aspirations of the revolution was to ensure that power would not be overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution."

The Cable asked Edgar Vasquez, spokesperson for the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs bureau, whether the Cairo embassy’s tweet reflected administration policy.

"Let’s not take too much liberty with this tweet," he said. "Our position is and has been that one of the aspirations of the Egyptian revolution was to ensure that power is not overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution. That is essentially what the tweet is saying in tweet speak."

This is not the first time this year the Cairo embassy’s press team has gotten out ahead of the Washington bureaucracy. The embassy’s press release and tweets on Sept. 11 became a huge headache for the administration when the Mitt Romney campaign seized on them to argue that the administration was mishandling the protests against an anti-Islam video.

The head Cairo embassy tweeter at that time, PAO Larry Schwartz, has since been recalled to Washington. But the independent spirit of the Cairo embassy social media team continues without him, it seems.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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