Gül understands Egypt, Erdoğan doesn’t want to

Gül understands Egypt, Erdoğan doesn’t want to

First the news: Despite all bitter rhetoric by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan regarding the interim government in Egypt brought about by the coup that took down Mohamed Morsi, Ankara is continuing to tone down its stance, as official sources have told HDN. Following a meeting chaired by Erdoğan on July 24, President Abdullah Gül sent a message to Adli Mansour, the head of the interim government, to congratulate Egypt on its national day, as reported by HDN on July 26.

Now it appears that the government has decided to take another step toward acknowledging the authority of the interim government as the ruler of the country, which is a shift from categorical denial position after the first two weeks of the coup. As part of that denial, the new Turkish Ambassador designated to Cairo, Ahmet Yıldız would not present his credentials to the interim President Mansour, as Ankara recognized Morsi as the only legal president. Incumbent ambassador to Cairo, Hüseyin Avni Botsalı, who is supposed to be starting his term in Sarajevo, was not able to leave the Egyptian capital. The stance has now changed and it has been decided by the government that Yıldız, who has received his approval from Cairo, will go and present his letter of accreditation to Mansour to initiate his office “as soon as the situation settles down a bit,” an official told the HDN.

In the meantime, a series of important developments have been taking place regarding not only Egypt, but wider Middle Eastern politics. It is true that the U.S. has suspended delivery of four fighter jets (F-16) to the interim government in Cairo as a sign of uneasiness about its detention of the toppled President Morsi without any explanation and without any contact with his family or lawyers. However, it is also true that U.S. President Barack Obama made it clear on July 26 that he was not going to label what happened in Egypt as a “coup.”

One of the main reasons for this is the scene in Cairo on Friday. When General Abdul Fattah el-Sisi made a call for support, an almost equal number of hundreds of thousands of people supporting Morsi for weeks in the Adawiya Square were gathered in Tahrir Square, as evidence of the divide in the Egyptian population.

It is something unique in political history that millions of supporters of the elected president have been protesting his toppling and arrest by the military for weeks now. But it is also unique that millions of other people prefer to take sides with the military who defied the popular vote, because of the fear that power through the ballot box could turn into a dictatorial rule. It’s very ironic, but that is the picture.

President Gül acknowledged this reality on Friday by saying that the Egyptian picture was “as if divided,” calling on all political powers - including the Muslim Brotherhood - for dialogue against the possibility that the masses could get out of control.

The same point was made by PM Erdoğan, but from a different perspective. Erdoğan said, again on Friday, that the Egyptian army and the old establishment was seeking a clash between the masses in Tahrir and Adawiya in order to justify its plot to seize full control of the Egyptian system. The point is that Erdoğan prefers not to acknowledge the presence of the masses in Tahrir as a part of Egyptian society, while putting all the stress on Adawiya. Erdoğan also said that Morsi had the right to take all the political steps he wanted as he received a majority of the votes, regardless of the checks and balances of the Egyptian system and the presence of those who are afraid of a possible Islamic authoritarianism by Morsi, even if it does come through voting.

It is complicated, and there could be further lessons from the Egyptian experience; after all, we are talking about the nation who created the art of bureucracy some 5,000 years ago.