Hardliners in the rebel ranks have long overshadowed the Muslim Brotherhood, a regional movement with a more moderate Islamist brand, and often criticized it for working within the framework of democracy instead of demanding an Islamic state.

“(We) always knew that our rights can only be regained by force and that is why we have chosen the ammunition box instead of the ballot box,” said a statement by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the local franchise of al Qaeda’s international network, published on the day Mursi fell.

“If you want to shake off injustice and create change it can only be done by the sword. We choose to negotiate in the trenches, not in hotels. The conference lights should be turned off,” it said, in an apparent reference to the Western and Gulf Arab-backed meetings for the Syrian opposition’s National Coalition meetings in Istanbul this week…

But even pro-democracy Syrian activists say Mursi’s fall has undermined their faith in Western and Gulf-Arab backed movements against autocratic leaders such as Assad and Mursi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years.

“Apparently armies in ‘democracies’ can topple presidents elected by the majority? This is a bad sign for revolutions,” said Tareq, an Aleppo-based activist, speaking by Skype.