Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Erdogan and the Islamists…Is the Honeymoon Over? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Whilst launching his attack on Hamas by declaring the establishment of an Islamic Emirate in Rafah, the head of the Jund Ansar Allah Group, Dr. Abdul Latif Moussa, AKA Abu Noor Al Maqdisi, compared Hamas to the Turkish Justice and Development Party. Al Maqdisi said that if Hamas carried on the way it is going, then it would be nothing more than a secular party “affiliated to fake Islam like the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

Is the honeymoon between Mr. Erdogan and Arab Islamist parties over? What was interesting whilst carrying out research for this article was that most Arab media ignored al Maqdisi’s comparison between Hamas and secular Turkey. Through Google News, [it was apparent that] nobody published al Maqdisi’s quote except Asharq Al-Awsat and the Egyptian Television and Radio Union, even though whoever listens to the entire speech can obviously see that al Maqdisi’s comments on Hamas and attacks on Mr. Erdogan were clear and direct!

With regards to ties between the Islamists and Turkey, a prominent researcher and intellect told me – based on what he had heard from symbols of Islamist movements – that there are two points in summarizing the perspective of Islamist movements towards the Turkish Justice and Development Party.

There are the Salafists who do not hide their anger for Mr. Erdogan’s actions even if they do not declare this publicly. They see Erdogan as an Islamist merely by name, and as someone who does not care about fundamental issues. In their opinion, he only cares about the Hijab issue, even if a woman goes around wearing a short skirt, and that is because Hijab is a popular issue that concerns the masses in Turkey and is a dream that has lasted fifty years.

They also use Erdogan’s relationship with Israel against him – despite the stand he took [at the World Economic Forum] in Davos after the war on Gaza when he stormed out of the room in protest against the Israeli President’s comments – as nothing has changed on the ground with regards to Turkish-Israeli ties, especially as Netanyahu’s office announced that Turkey is the legitimate mediator in negotiations with Syria.

According to the Islamist intellectual, the symbols of the Muslim Brotherhood [MB], particularly the MB movement in Egypt, believe that Erdogan is providing a great service to Islamists, as he is improving their image in the West and in Washington especially. They also believe that he is taking initiatives in the interest of their political influence by bringing the views of the MB and Syria closer together for example, or by opening channels of communication between the MB and the West behind the scenes.

Therefore, the MB does not see any harm in what Mr. Erdogan is doing. Rather, MB members believe that there is more benefit to it than harm by serving their bigger interests. For that reason they believe that it is wrong to criticize Erdogan even if Turkey does have good ties with Israel. This, of course, contradicts the MB’s position on peaceful ties between Israel on the one hand and Egypt and Jordan on the other – two countries that had their territories occupied by Israel returned to them whilst the Turks have no territories occupied by Israel at all!

Therefore, al Maqdisi’s comment might be an indication that the honeymoon between Islamist movements and Turkey is over, inasmuch as it is a major indication that what happened in Gaza is just the tip of the iceberg, as it is clear that fundamentalist extremism there has spread to a large degree and has begun to threaten the Palestinians themselves.