The fall and fall of the Turkish Empire

The fall and fall of the Turkish Empire

Why, the careful observer should ask, did the crowds in Istanbul, which gathered to protest the coup d’etat in Cairo, repeatedly chant “Allah-u aqbar (God is greatest)?” What does God’s greatness have to do with a coup in an Arab country? Why did the same crowds not protest the 1989 coup in Sudan, or the 1980 coup in Turkey? Does God have a different perspective on Egyptian, Turkish and Sudanese coups?

Why do the Turks protest the deaths of 200 Muslims in Egypt but have not raised a single voice in the face of the deaths of over 800 Muslims in Iraq only in the last month?

And by protesting the coup, are the Turkish Muslims not refuting the fatwa by Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheik Ahmed El-Tayeb who supported the coup? Do they not know that Mr. el-Tayeb occupies the highest seat of learning in the Sunni world?

The Liberal Party chairman, Cem Toker, was probably wrong when he asked Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu whether he was Turkey’s foreign minister or Syria’s interior minister. Mr. Davutoğlu is Syria’s, Egypt’s and Iraq’s interior minister (until he adds new jobs to his portfolio). And why does Mr Davutoğlu urge the West to intervene in Syria and Egypt while he and his cabinet comrades categorically refuse even the mildest western criticism on Turkish affairs?

Last week, both Mr. Davutoğlu and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç firmly said that Turkey would not tolerate a de facto Kurdish entity in northern Syria. Now, Mssrs Davutoğlu and Arınç should explain why they would not tolerate a Syrian Kurdish entity while they tolerate, with smiles, Kurdish entities in Iraq and Turkey. Does Mr. Davutoğlu think that the acronym KRG in northern Iraq stands for the Kenyan Regional Government?
Perhaps it is about time the very important men in Ankara should sit down and think over the Egyptian interim government’s warning that Ankara should stop meddling in Egyptian politics. It was not a coincidence that Egypt’s presidential spokesman, Ahmed Elmoslmany, said that “1) The Turkish statements were inappropriate, 2) Ankara should respect Egypt’s sovereignty, and 3) Turkey has to understand it is speaking about a big country with a great history.”

It was also not a coincidence that some Egyptian NGOs are calling Egyptians and Arabs to boycott Turkish goods and soap operas. Nor was it another coincidence that Egypt’s ambassador to Ankara, Abdurrahman Salahaddin, told Hürriyet that “Egypt’s intellectuals, writers and businessmen were recommending a break in Egypt’s relations with Turkey because they are disappointed.”

And now, are you, Mr. Davutoğlu, surprised that Egypt unilaterally cancelled visa-free travel for Turkish citizens? Are you surprised that Lebanon is no longer a safe travel destination for Turkish citizens? Are you surprised that the comrades in arms of your brothers in arms in Syria attacked the Turkish embassy in Mogadishu and killed one Turkish police officer? Are you really shocked that “some” Muslims could commit such acts? You may not call them Muslims, but they do.

If Mr. Erdoğan wishes to test his popularity on the Arab Street would he care to visit Cairo, Baghdad or Beirut – after the Maghreb disappointment early in June? (I would strongly advise against Mogadishu, Aleppo or Damascus where, like Cairo and Beirut, he once was a “rock star,” but could now probably be a potential martyr.)

In the face of the Syrian impasse, Mr. Davutoğlu recently put the blame on President Bashar al-Assad’s living mother: “Al-Assad’s problem is that his mother is still alive … and reminds him of his father.”

What, then, is the problem about Egypt, Minister Davutoğlu? That former dictator Hosni Mubarak is still alive and reminds Egypt’s military leaders of a tradition of coups? What is the problem about Arab leaders who more than welcomed the coup in Cairo? That they are alive and remind themselves of their own monarchies? What is the problem about Iraq, Mr. Davutoğlu? That it is haunted by the spirit of Saddam Hussein?

What is the problem about Turkey, Mr. Davutoğlu? And what is the problem about you and your prime minister?