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A Sultan's Dream Fades Away
Published in AL HAYAT on 21 - 07 - 2013

The "Arab Spring" has only been a front for the attempts of political Islam to rise to power with old programs, some of which date back to the 1920s, as in Egypt, and others trying to duplicate the experience of Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP), the latter thus finding a ripe opportunity for it to spread its influence to the whole region, with the blessing of the United States. In fact, Washington has found in the Turkish regime, allied to Israel and a member of NATO, the model required to spread in the Muslim and Arab worlds, as well as the ideal response to the Iranian model. Despite the fact that Iran supported the Muslim Brotherhood before as well as after their rise to power, it has remained in the view of the majority a model of governance that falls outside the framework of historical Islamic "legitimacy", in addition to being classified by the Americans as part of the Axis of Evil.
Yet all the facts indicate that the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab World has failed, and that the United States, which had declared its support of it in the beginning, has backed down. This is after it found the Brotherhood to be rejected by the popular base, especially in Egypt, where its main weight resides. This is why the US has taken a "neutral" stance on the move by the army to topple the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood and has refrained from describing it as a coup or demanding the return of the "legitimate president", sufficing itself with calling for calm. Europe and the rest of the international community have followed its example and have not demanded the return of Morsi, so as not to stand against the will of tens of millions of Egyptians who took to public squares demanding his impeachment and supporting the step taken by the army.
There is no one left to support the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood but Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He is the only one who considered that the move by the army represents a coup against legitimacy and demanded the return of Morsi to power. He also ordered his party and his media apparatus to wage a campaign against the new regime – a campaign in which he personally took part, declaring that Vice President Mohamed El-Baradei had asked to meet with him but that he had refused, telling him: "why would I ever talk to you? You are not an elected [vice president]. You are a [vice president] appointed by a coup administration". Yet it later appeared that Erdogan had made up the whole story, as El-Baradei had never called him nor asked to meet with him.
The fact of the matter is that the stance taken by Erdogan is understandable. Indeed, he had wagered on the Muslim Brotherhood breaking through the "Arab Spring" to support his stances in the interior and fulfill his dream of a new Middle East that would turn to Ankara as the capital of the "Caliphate", after the failure of military regimes in the region throughout the past decades.
His stance is also understandable because Turkey's Islamists suffered greatly when they were being targeted by the army. Thus their leader Necmettin Erbakan was forced to renounce power in 1997. The man also fears a repetition of the experience of coups in the 1980s, as he fears the military standing against the changes he started in Ankara and seeks to spread to the rest of the Muslim world. This explains his support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq, as represented by the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), and his repeated attempts before the development of the crisis in Syria to achieve reconciliation between the regime and the Brotherhood, pledging in the latter's name to participate in quelling the popular movement. This was the reason for the repeated visits of his Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Damascus. And when his discourse fell on deaf ears at the Presidential Palace there, he began demanding Assad's departure, opened the borders to armed fighters, established training camps for them and a leadership supervised by his security services, and formed the coalition of the "National Council", which collapsed due to conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and other parties with several regional and international backers.
After the developments on the field in Syria, as well as in Iraq, and the toppling of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, Erdogan felt that his Sultan's dream was in the process of fading away. He thus began to escalate his campaign at both the domestic and foreign levels.
The Syrian earthquake is only beginning to take effect, and it is too early to predict the extent of its repercussions in the Levant and in the region.


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