The defeated always dream of a saviour. They proudly praise King Saladin, who died 900 years ago and raise photographs of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey. “Same is the case with some Arabs, who reinvent glimpses of the past or the present and embellish them, trying to turn them into sources of inspiration”, wrote the columnist Abdul Rahman El Rashed in the pan-Arab daily, Asharq Al Awsat.
A picture-perfect image of leaders usually turns into a trap. That happened with Mr Erdogan who enjoyed few years of popularity across the Arab world that finally swept him away. Before him, followers chanted the name of Saddam Hussein, and praised Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader. Both of them enjoyed the spotlight, which eventually faded.
Mr Erdogan deserves recognition for his achievements at the national level in Turkey. He sought to take a stand in regional conflicts by supporting Turkish vessels that tried to break the embargo imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip – and failed. He lost the maritime battle but won the hearts of many Arabs. His position against Bashar Al Assad’s regime at the beginning of the Syrian crisis gave his fans high hopes that were never fulfilled, as the ninth military power in the world failed to translate its words into action.
Mr Erdogan thought that siding with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt would be a judicious choice. Instead, he ended up puddling in the mud of Egyptian politics, leading his friend Abdullah Gul to intervene and mitigate tensions with the Egyptian regime. This setback to his popularity kept growing as his list of opponents started to increase, especially in Turkey, with tensions building up until the scandal that’s the Iranian deal involving his fellow ministers and his political party.
Mr Erdogan’s Arab fans kept defending him, insisting that the police and judiciary were corrupt, that this was a conspiracy orchestrated by the Gülen party. If that’s the case, then how has Mr Erdogan governed the country for the past decade alongside those same institutions?
In the case of the Iranian gold and billions, Mr Erdogan expelled those who investigated his ministers and their offspring, using his powers as prime minister. He also planned to control the judiciary. Such activities raised many eyebrows and sparked anger among political forces in the country, many of which are trying to find a solution. That may lead to his removal.
Mr Erdogan’s Arab fans are in difficulty. They find themselves missing a chosen leader. “With Saddam gone, Nasrallah failing them and Morsi ousted, they may well have to let go of their beloved Erdogan: he did not truly face Israel, or restore Morsi, or fight Assad, and he was eventually found guilty of helping the Iranian regime with money laundering”, wrote Al Rashed.
A clash between the Isil and Al Nusra Front
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) will remain a key player in the restive region despite the losses it has suffered over the past weeks, wrote Wahid Abdul Majid, a columnist for the UAE-based daily Al Ittihad.
The blows the Isil has been dealt with during battles in Syria and Iraq do not threaten its existence as its regional influence has grown so much so that its leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi openly challenged the Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri.
This challenge has brought unprecedented conflicts within Al Qaeda. The Isil was but an extension of Tawhid and Jihad that was created in Iraq after the US invasion in 2003, and which paid allegiance to the Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2004 after changing its name to Al Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers.
Cashing in on the abuses of the US forces before withdrawal and the sectarian policies of the Iraqi government, Al Baghdadi managed to gain greater influence, change the name again to the Islamic State in Iraq, and interfere in the Syrian uprising when it took a sectarian dimension.
The Isil did not hesitate to fight other small Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria, although it has not hitherto entered into a battle with Al Nusra Front. But this battle is more likely now, considering that the Isil has become highly provocative to Al Nusra Front’s leaders.
Russia and Iran fire warning shots over Geneva
In one day, Russia and Iran sent their warnings to the world, noted the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi in an editorial yesterday.
Commenting about President Putin’s patience, Vladimir Chizhov, the Russian Ambassador to the European Union, said a few days ago in Brussels: “I don‘t invite anybody to test it.”
The second warning came from Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who said at press conference in Lebanon this week that if political pressure from some parties results in excluding Iran from the conference, those parties will regret all their efforts.
Mr Zarif’s warning lays bare Iran’s deep state, which has been promoting moderation after the election of Hassan Rouhani, the paper said. Mr Zarif’s visit to Lebanon and his warning, along with the Russian one, suggest two things. One, the warning is part of efforts towards getting Iran invited to the Geneva 2 without preconditions. Two, Iran, with a Russian cover, will cause a big political crisis in Lebanon.
Involving Hizbollah in the Syrian conflict was Iran’s response to its exclusion from the Geneva meetings; the interference was not Hizbollah’s decision and not even in defence of the Syrian regime; Iran cannot be ruled out because it is a player on Syrian territory, through the Revolutionary Guards and Hizbollah.
* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk