x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Turkish Islamists sorry to lose Egypt

Turkey had an enviable position while the Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt, an Arab editor writes. Another piece looks at the army's role in Egypt; another at John Kerry in Palestine.

Turkey is taking up the cause of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, to protect its regional influence

The Turkish stance on post-June 30 Egypt has "crossed the limits of rationality" as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's Islamist prime minister, continues to defend Egypt's unseated president, Mohammed Morsi, accusing the Egyptian army of staging a coup when what the army really did was "take the side of the people", said Tariq Al Homayed, a contributing editor to the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

"This kind of attitude from Turkey is all the more surprising because the country claims to be a champion of a 'zero-problem' strategy," the author wrote yesterday in a column titled Erdogan in Rabaa Al Adaweya, in reference to the public square where Morsi supporters have been rallying in protest against the army's coup early this month.

"What Mr Erdogan is doing today has only one explanation, which is that the Turkish Brotherhood are sensing the gravity of the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the organisation that has given them considerable clout in the region, in the West and particularly in the United States," Al Homayed said.

The Turks have had an undeniable influence on the US administration under President Barack Obama, who is known to have a particular appreciation for the Turkish model, the writer said.

"In the wake of the Arab Spring, Washington thought that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and elsewhere, would take after Turkey's Brotherhood model, in terms of relations with Israel, attitude towards reform and the like.

"This presented Mr Erdogan with a golden opportunity to become something of a 'political guide' for all the Brothers across the region. He became Washington's go-to man when the Brotherhood needed to be told to temper some of its stances," Al Homayed said.

"Basically, instead of having to deal with a whole bunch of countries, you could just coordinate with the Turkish Brothers, and all the other Brotherhood offshoots would follow."

The fear of losing this privileged, central position elucidates Turkey's "rigidity" regarding the recent regime change in Egypt, the writer maintained.

But Turkey must remember that the region is not just about Egypt, or sprawling Brotherhood offshoots, he added. By coming out so strongly in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood's rule in Egypt, Ankara has shown that it is not really mindful of the political losses it might incur regionally as its good relations with other Arab neighbours grow strained. None of the Arab nations that supported the coup in Egypt, including Gulf countries, have been happy with Turkey's stance, he wrote.

The Turks are not paying attention to the fact that the Egyptian opponents of Mr Morsi "were dreaming of the Turkish model in their own country" when President Morsi was elected.

US peace mission is an extortion of Palestine

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has not succeeded in giving the impression of seriousness and of having ability to achieve a breakthrough in the peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis seem unsuccessful, opined the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial on Wednesday as Mr Kerry began his sixth visit to the area.

"Faced with Israeli intransigence, Mr Kerry, just like other US administration officials, is pressuring Palestinians for additional concessions," the paper said.

Clearly, the US policy is still as harsh towards Palestinians as ever. Recent Israeli reports confirmed that the US had threatened Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas that it would withhold aid as a way to pressure him into acquiescing to an unconditional return to talks.

"Palestinians must take a firm stand over the absurdity and the fruitlessness of going on with negotiations. Mr Kerry's efforts, or rather pressure, shouldn't overshadow other options available to them, no matter how simple they may be," the paper added.

The Palestinian side can decrease the level of coordination with the Israeli authorities and revoke a number of decisions and pro bono concessions they have made in the past, such as the principle of land exchange.

More importantly, Palestinians should resume their efforts to join UN organisations following the UN Assembly General's acknowledgement of Palestine.

The people want to bring down the people

In the name of a people rebelling against religious dictatorship and in the name of the remnants reminiscing about the days of secular dictatorship, the Egyptian military has cleared the country's political field of the weeds of democracy, wrote Fatima Ifriqi in an article on the Moroccan news website Febrayer.

In the name of a popular uprising, the army took advantage of innocent youth dreaming of freedom, gave them a quick victory and formed a select majority of the cross, sabha [prayer beads] and what remains of credibility.

In the name of a part of the people revolting against another part of the people, they removed a president and brought in another atop a tank, much to the delight of a media pretending independence, and with the blessing of rulers scared of the contagion of democracy, the writer said.

Arab tyrants must be asking: how could the masses lead without military tutelage? How can we comply with an authority established by the ballot box, not repression?

"To be democrats or not to be, that is the question. Democracy is an indivisible political tool to enforce the will of the people. Take it all or leave it all," she argued.

As for the excuse of "popular", there are always enough people willing to overthrow the rest of the people, she concluded.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk