Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has, as one of the few world leaders to do so, strongly condemned the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He has called it “anti-democratic,” saying that the Brotherhood should be restored to power as soon as possible.
“Any attitude that can drag Egypt into confrontation should be avoided,” said the man who became infamous last month for setting riot police, armed with tear gas and water cannons, loose on peaceful protesters. “We expect that all politicians, Morsi and the prime minister in the first instance, will be immediately released.”
He went on to call the interim-administration, Egypt’s “so-called” rulers and added that general Al-Sisi had no right to complain about Turkey’s involvement in his country’s internal affairs. “We are expressing that we stand with the Egyptian people and our principles,” he said.
Apparently, those principles mean that it is perfectly fine to oppress opponents by systematically persecuting them and to kill christians on a scale seldom seen before, since that is what has happened in Egypt after disposed president Mohamed Morsi first came to power. But try and save a country’s secular nature and its religious minorities, and suddenly you are a menace to world peace.
Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has also weighed in. “I strongly condemn the massacre during the morning prayers in the name of basic human values that we have been defending,” he wrote on his Twitter account after it was reported that as many as 34 Muslim Brothers were killed in clashes with the military. Whether those numbers are correct or not is apparently not a question of interest to the Turkish government. Reports that the Muslim Brothers were armed are also brushed aside. The army is the enemy, the Brotherhood is an example to all Muslim democrats.
That is rather strange because it has already been conclusively proved that the Muslim Brothers are armed and that they even go so far as to shoot their fellow party members just so they can smear the army. See the video below for evidence. They are literally sacrificing their own people in order to reach their political goals:
Erdogan is not interested in such bloody, inconvenient facts. Like his fellow Islamists in Egypt, he chooses to attack the Egyptian army instead.
One of Erdogan’s senior foreign ministry officials explained what Turkey hopes to achieve in Egypt: “Military coups are unacceptable, in Egypt or elsewhere. Undoing the coup and re-instating the toppled government should be the priorities of countries with a democratic understanding.” Like his prime minister, the source does not comprehend that, in a democratic system, the majority should not only be protected from the minority, but vice versa as well. Majoritism is not democracy.
Erdogan is the only world leader who has taken such a firm stance against the military coup. Even Obama has failed to use such strong language, even though he too has supported the Muslim Brotherhood for years.
Although remarkable, Erdogan’s response to the coup is not suprising. He fears for his own political future. Military coups have long been part of Turkey’s political reality. In the last 50 years alone there have been three coups, the last of which took place in 1997, when Erdogan’s hoca (teacher) Erbakan was ousted from power.
From the very moment he became prime minister, Erdogan has feared he will suffer the same fate. That is why he has replaced the army’s top officers with soldiers who have Islamist leanings. Being as paranoid as he is, however, the prime minister still fears that this will not be enough to prevent the military from staging a coup if it decides that the government is betraying Atatürk’s legacy. Hence his furious attacks against Egypt’s military and his refusal to acknowledge the interim-cabinet as legitimate.
Additionally, Erdogan is worried because a defeat for Morsi is a defeat for himself. The AK Parti and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood have rather close ties. This Cairo-Ankara axis evolved naturally out of their shared political and religious views and goals: both do not only want to Islamize their respective countries, but the entire region.
Soon after the so-called Arab Spring started, it quickly developed into an Islamist Revolution. Muslim fundamentalists everywhere saw their dreams finally being realized: a goal for which they had worked so hard, for so many years to achieve. But now, at the very moment their victory seems at hand, it suddenly is in danger of collapsing. A successful coup in Egypt spells trouble for all Islamists: other countries hit by the Islamist tidal wave may very well follow suit, or so they fear.
Erdogan sees the recent developments in Egypt for what they are: a movement against the political Islamization of the region. He fears that something similar could happen in his own and other countries, which will be the undoing of the progress he and his fellow Islamists have made in recent years. That means that the Erdogan we have seen in the last couple of weeks, including his response to the Egyptian coup, is not a man driven by confidence, but by fear.
And that should be reason for hope for those who worry about Turkey’s – and the region’s – descent into authoritarianism and Islamism.
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