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Opinion: Turkey – The Brotherhood’s Last Station (2/2) | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s departure from Turkey will mark its end as a political force and party. The organisation is now living in a time similar to the presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser when its ideology and presence as a movement was banned. The leaders of the movement were freed and they were allowed to operate during the presidency of Anwar Sadat who lifted the ban that his predecessor had imposed, and that had lasted 20 years; from 1954 to the year during which he died.

Ironically, the group wanted Sadat dead. Then came Hosni Mubarak who granted the Brotherhood an acceptable amount of freedom; he allowed it to undertake political, social, and economic activities. In turn, the organisation was content to work within the agreed political framework and won 88 seats in parliament.

When the Egyptian revolution broke out in 2011, the Brotherhood did not participate in it at the beginning but only after making sure that Mubarak had left the scene. It won the elections but lost power because it rushed to control state institutions, especially the judiciary and the media. It also tried to rewrite the constitution according to its vision. During the one year that it was in power, it lost its allies, including Nasserists and the left. Its appetite to expand its powers intimidated the army which took the initiative to overthrow it, taking advantage of the angry climate amongst the people resulting from poor services and a lack of security.

After the Turkish government’s decision to abandon the Muslim Brotherhood, it is quite unlikely that it will be allowed to resume its political activities for a long time from now.

Although the Brotherhood’s leadership of the country was very bad, its provocative foreign policy was worse. It quickly became close to the Iranian regime and this alarmed other Arab countries that are at odds with Tehran, such as the Gulf states.

For example, despite Saudi Arabia’s apprehensiveness of the Muslim Brotherhood, it provided financial support to Morsi’s government as a token of its desire for a good relationship with it. However, it was rewarded with Iranian delegations coming to Cairo at a time when relations between Riyadh and Tehran were very tense. Relations deteriorated further when the Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi invited the then Iranian President Ahmadinejad to visit him, and that was the worst message that he could have sent to his allies.

Therefore, when angry demonstrations that were bigger than the January 25 protests erupted on the 3rd of July 2013, the army considered them a mandate to intervene. This no doubt came as a relief to neighbouring capitals.

The Brotherhood did not stop making mistakes, and instead of examining the new situation after its departure and dealing with it realistically, it fought a losing battle.

In the opinion of a close associate of the organisation, Brotherhood members became orphans after their leaders were arrested, and have been exploited in regional conflicts. He believes that the Brotherhood was a victim of its desire and that its miserable situation was exploited. He also believes that it accepted to participate in regional battles in exchange for safe havens and huge support so that it could topple the new regime in Egypt. The Brotherhood’s conviction about an illogical strategy like this shows that it has nothing to lose after it lost power.

Western governments kept talking about the legitimacy of Morsi’s rule and the illegitimacy of what they called the coup, and took a series of punitive measures against Cairo.

However, any expert in international relations knows that countries change their positions according to their interests. This is what the US and European governments did, and this is what Tayyib Recep Erdogan’s government is doing today. It is expelling the Muslim Brotherhood and reconciling with the government of Abdel Fattah El-Sisi because this is in its interests.

The Brotherhood’s only option is to review their mistakes and political ideology. It should aspire to political participation that believes in the other, without using religion for political purposes.