Is Turkey a loser and Israel a winner in Egypt?

Is Turkey a loser and Israel a winner in Egypt?

Before getting into an international political analysis on the Middle East following Egypt’s coup, an important note has to be made. The pro-Mohamed Morsi demonstrations, which have been going on since the July 3 putsch that toppled the elected president, are a unique example of a civil resistance against a coup in modern political history.

In a recent statement by the U.S. administration, it was said that the Egyptian people had their say by collecting some 22 million signatures against the Muslim Brotherhood-backed administration of Morsi as a justification not to label the coup as a coup. There is no doubt that those gathering in the Adawiya square to demand Morsi be reinstated also have their say, and it is becoming clear that it will not be possible to have political stability in Egypt by trying to suppress or ignore the brotherhood. And the brotherhood should keep in mind that if it comes to power again, those who did not and will not vote for it should not be ignored either.

But it seems it will take quite a time for the things to settle down in Egypt.

What kind of an effect will that have on the political balances of the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East in a broader perspective? How will that influence the positions of the countries in the region? Are there any winners or losers, and who are they?

İsmail Hakkı Pekin has an answer to that. As the former head of the military intelligence of the Turkish Armed Forces, retired Lt. Gen. Pekin wrote in his column on July 14 in the Turkish daily Aydınlık that Israel had been the winner and that Turkey had been the loser of the coup in Egypt. He claims that because Egypt will be condemned to uncertainty, Syria is in a civil war and Hezbollah is involved in the Syrian civil war instead of troubling Israel, the Benjamin Netanyahu government was in the most advantageous position among all the regional countries to impose its policies, especially the one against Iran’s nuclear program.

Pekin also claimed that Turkey was losing its political advantages because of the inner unrest in the Arab countries in the region and that they would affect Turkey’s economic interests in particular in the coming years. He added that because European Union countries have started to adopt programs to avoid a radicalization of their own Islamic population, the need to cooperate with Turkey on that matter would lose importance, too.

If we consider that Morsi’s loss of power in Egypt has dealt a major blow to all brotherhood-linked movements in the region, Hamas in Gaza and rebel forces in Syria (against whom Damascus- and Tehran-backed Hezbollah has been fighting), Pekin has a point. On top of that, we can add the Sunni-Shiite rift further deepened by the Syrian war in Iraq and the U-turn of Qatar, who had been supportive of the brotherhood in Syria and Egypt until recently.

The Turkish position regarding the unrest in the region could go as far as the maximalist demand to ask the United States, the United Nations and the EU to help undo the coup in Egypt and as minimalist as asking Iran to persuade Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria. The Tayyip Erdoğan government in Ankara has very few links left with the Syrian and Israeli governments in the region and has lost its “talking to everyone” hand (mainly because of too much involvement in the sectarian-based domestic politics of the regional countries) in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and now in Egypt. Pekin might have a point in saying that Turkey could be a loser in the post-Egypt region.

Ankara is not likely to listen to his contribution to Turkish foreign policy, which has been going through a “fine-tuning” process these days; Pekin has been in jail since 2011 on accusations of being a part of a plot to overthrow the Erdoğan government, after serving the PM as military intelligence chief for four years.