It is a role reminiscent of the uprising that ousted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. In that instance, the military took over in the interim until democratic elections could be held.
Once again, the military is stating that it does not want to impose a military dictatorship, but instead usher in another democratically elected government.
Law professor Ozan O. Varol published a paper in the Harvard International Law Journal after Mubarak's ouster, arguing that the events of 2011 broke the mold of traditional military coups.
"Although all coups have anti-democratic features insofar as they place the military in power by force or the threat of force, some military coups are distinctly more democracy-promoting than others," he wrote. "In these coups, the military responds to popular opposition against an authoritarian or totalitarian regime, overthrows that regime, and facilitates fair and free elections within a short span of time."
The current situation in Egypt is still playing out, but Varol's research explains why many see this week's coup as the expression of the popular will of the people.