Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The differences between Ahmadinejad and Erdogan | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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This is a comparison between the leaders of two neighbouring countries, which will allow us to see the differences and disparities between these two men. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power by a clear majority through fair and transparent elections; his people are proud of him and consider him an Islamic leader and a national icon due to his history of service and his honourable [political] record. In stark contract to this, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power by rigging the elections, suppressing the opposition, shedding innocent blood and ordering members of the Basij [Iranian paramilitary volunteer force] to open fire on innocent protestors. A large segment of Iranian society does not want Ahmadinejad and do not approve or support his political policies. Erdogan, on the other hand, is pursuing a tolerant, moderate, middle-of-the-road Islamic project in Turkey that is welcomed and supported by the people of Turkey. In addition to this project, Erdogan is also pursuing a popular foreign policy that is managing to convert foes into friends. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad is implementing an oppressive, sectarian, Safavid or Persian project that is hostile to the Arabs in particular and the world in general. This project has turned many friends into foes; placing Iran in one trench, and the rest of the entire world in another.

Erdogan reassured his neighbours, building bridges of friendship and communication with the Arab and Muslim world; establishing excellent Turkish relations with the East and West alike. It was through such policies that Erdogan has been able to transform Turkey into a key regional and international player on the political scene. Contrary to this, Ahmadinejad has been hostile to his neighbours, threatening and intimidating them. He insulted the Western world, and threatened to use force against all those who defy him, claiming that the entire world is conspiring against Iran. It was this attitude that resulted in economic sanctions being imposed on Iran, and Tehran being viewed as a threat to international peace and security.

Turkey does not enjoy any significant oil or gas resources, however in spite of this Turkish citizens are currently living in relative prosperity, and Ankara aspires to join the ranks of the developed world. This is arguably the most prosperous era in Turkish history, and it is the period engineered by Erdogan’s Justice and Development party [AKP]. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad’s Iran enjoys significant oil and gas wealth, yet his people are impoverished and his country’s infrastructure is weak. This is all thanks to his unwise [political] policies, his squandering of Iran’s wealth on imaginary wars in the name of exporting the [Islamic] revolution, and his attempts to build a nuclear bomb. As a result of all this, 40 percent of Iran’s population today live below the poverty line.

I have visited both Iran and Turkey. In my opinion, the difference between the two countries with regards to progress, welfare, and prosperity, is akin to the difference between a developing country and a developed one. As for their positions on Israel, Erdogan genuinely insulted Israel before the entire world with his decisive actions and bold stances. He humiliated the Israeli Prime Minister, forcing Israel to humbly apologize to Turkey in front of the whole world. At the same time, Ahmadinejad only verbally feuds with Israel, nothing more. He is not known for taking a stance against Israel, rather he takes such threatening stances against his Muslim neighbours, like the Gulf States, which share Islamic heritage, history, and geography with Iran. However in spite of everything that they share in common, Ahmadinejad continues to threaten his Muslim neighbours

Erdogan and his party raised the slogan of “zero problems.” He carried out social, political, and economic reform in Turkey, in addition to forging stronger relations with the Arab and Muslim world, as well as the international community. Erdogan has become famous for playing a role in reconciling international disputes, particularly as he is respected by all parties. In contrast, Ahmadinejad has only worsened the problems being faced by the Iranian people; indeed he has worsened the regional and international problems. Ahmadinejad’s Iran is in a state of dispute with everybody from the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia to the US and West in general. Ahmadinejad pursues a policy of threats and intimidation, but as the saying goes “his bark is worse than his bite.”

Erdogan respects the unity of the Muslim World, and Islam’s history and tradition. He respects the Prophet’s Family, the Companion of the Prophet, the Holy Quran, and the Sunna. Most importantly, Erdogan believes that the only way that the Muslim umma will achieve anything is through unity. As for Ahmadinejad, he understands Islam in his own way, and he has his own view about the Companions of the Prophet, the Sunna, and the history of Islam. He denies the rights of Abu Bakr, and Omar Ibn al-Khattab, to assume the Caliphate. Ahmadinejad also publicly attacked and criticized Talha Ibn Obeidallah and Zubayr Ibn al-Awa, who were Companions of the Prophet, and who everybody knows were among those that the Prophet promised would go to heaven.

So the gap between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is clear for all to see!