Thursday,23 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1228, (8 - 14 January 2015)
Thursday,23 May, 2019
Issue 1228, (8 - 14 January 2015)

Ahram Weekly

ِEditorial: The Ottoman assumption

Al-Ahram Weekly

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is making disrespectful remarks about President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb.

Acting as if Egypt were still part of the Ottoman Empire, Erdogan is making crazy assumptions, all based on the far-fetched dream that he will one day be catapulted by the Muslim Brotherhood and its international outfit into a position of supremacy in the region.

Erdogan’s flagrant interference in Egyptian domestic affairs started at the beginning of the 25 January Revolution, way before Al-Sisi became president, and is far from over.

The first sign of this interference came when Erdogan called on former president Hosni Mubarak to step down, telling him that two square metres are more than enough for a man’s grave.

Under the Justice and Development Party (JDP), Turkey has entertained far-reaching ambitions, the full attainment of which is impossible unless Cairo takes a backseat in the regional scene, thus allowing Ankara to run the show.

Historically speaking, Egypt was the region’s main defence against Turkish interference. Before Erdogan came to power, the Turks knew their place, confining their actions to toeing the NATO line. But since Erdogan took over, Ankara began challenging other major players in the region, especially Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

In Egypt, Turkey started grooming the Muslim Brotherhood to gain power, helping it come to office and then advising it to curb the power of the judiciary and take full control of the army and the police. But Egypt wasn’t as easy a prey as the Muslim Brotherhood and its Turkish allies assumed. And 30 June 2013 put an end to this scheme.

Turkey tried something similar in Syria and failed, and in Tunisia its friends have lost most of their power. Only in Libya, the disruption continues. In Iraq, Turkey is apparently still supporting the Islamic State’s devastating actions.

Turkey is believed to have offered Islamic State (IS) combatants logistical support since the conflict in Syria started. In Iraq, IS, which occupied many Sunni and Kurdish towns, is said to be exporting oil through the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Observers of Turkish policy note that since 2003, when Erdogan came to power, Ankara started interfering in the domestic affairs of various countries in the region. More recently, Erdogan challenged Al-Sisi’s legitimacy, criticising him at the UN, and made offensive remarks about Al-Azhar’s grand imam. Meanwhile, he is aiding and abetting members of the Muslim Brotherhood and is thinking of setting up a pro-Brotherhood satellite station to replace Al-Jazeera Mubasher Masr.

Following unconfirmed news that the Qataris are trying to mediate between Cairo and Ankara, the Turkish foreign minister and his spokesman both said that Turkey doesn’t mind mending fences with Egypt, but only on the condition that Al-Sisi restores democracy and freedom to Egypt.

This is rich, coming from a government that is known for its repression of freedom at home. A country that is famous for imprisoning journalists and silencing opponents is in no position to lecture others on public freedoms.

In fact, it is Egypt that should be setting the terms for improved ties with Ankara. It should ask, for example, that Erdogan apologise to the Egyptian people for speaking ill of their 30 June revolution. Erdogan should also apologise to Al-Ahzar and its grand imam. More importantly, Turkey should quit aiding and abetting the Muslim Brotherhood.

If Turkey is serious about normalising ties, it should rethink its ways and abandon its dreams of regional domination.

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