The AKP can’t have it all its own way
There is a lot of angry moralizing on the part of Turkish Islamists aimed at the West for its reluctance to label what happened in Egypt a “military coup.” Turkish Islamists must however be really noted for the manner that they are shying away from criticizing the keepers of the established Sunni order in the Middle East who are not condemning the coup in Egypt.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have not uttered a word yet over the fact that the key countries in the Middle East, from Saudi Arabia to Qatar, from the United Arab Emirates to Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, are actually celebrating the toppling of President Mohamed Morsi, even though he is a devout Sunni, let alone condemning this.
The real question to be asked by Turkish Islamists then is why there is so much hatred of a Sunni organization like the Muslim Brotherhood in a region that is predominantly Islamic and where Sunni powers have held the cards for decades. This question clearly requires an in-depth sociological analysis that highlights the tensions that exist, not just between the religious and the secular, but also between the rich and the poor, the privileged and the dispossessed, capital and labor etc.
Many Islamists assume that Islam is an all-encapsulating melting pot that makes such sociological factors irrelevant. An objective look at the Middle East however proves this not only to be wrong, by also leads us to Karl Marx’s remark that religion is the opium of the people, at least when one judges by the way the established order in the region behaves.
It is clear that members of this order fear the dissatisfaction that results from blatant social injustice, which pushes the helpless masses toward groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in the hope that it will overturn this hated order. The Arab Spring, in which the Muslim Brotherhood also played a key role, was in fact driven more for reasons of justice and equality than for reasons of religion, and this is why the rich Gulf States and the privileged classes across the Middle East hated it so much.
The difficulty for Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) is that it also belongs to the established Sunni order in the Middle East, given the massive support it gets from domestic and foreign Islamic capitalists, while it tries to also be a member of the international Muslim Brotherhood fraternity, which essentially represents the downtrodden Islamic masses.
The way it tries to work its way out of this dichotomy is to refrain from accusing members of the established Sunni order, with which it is in vital contact with, while accusing the West for developments against the downtrodden Islamic masses in order to maintain its popular appeal among Islamists at home and in the Middle East.
Put another way, by constantly accusing the West it tries to divert attention from the fact that it is in fact the established and self-interested Sunni order in the region that is really perpetuating the suffering of the Sunni masses. But as developments increasingly show Erdoğan and the AKP cannot have it all their way.
My old friend Tahsin Akti, the press adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, called me after reading my last piece carrying the title “More divisive talk out of the AKP.” He assured me that Atalay had been misquoted by the national agency concerned, and that he did not say the Jewish diaspora was behind the Gezi Park protests as alleged. I had of course carried Atalay’s denial in my piece. Akti also assured me that Atalay never intended to offend the Jewish citizens of Turkey, and underlined that the deputy prime minister has always stood against anti-Semitism.