King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia should resign!
As the Hürriyet Daily News’ Tuesday headline suggested, Turkey – a “preciously alone” country – is now pointing the finger at Middle Eastern monarchies for their extraordinary political and financial support to the Egyptian coup d’état, after weeks of an anti-West campaign that centered on the United Nations and European countries.
Turkey’s aloneness is becoming ever more precious with Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ’s harsh statement against oil-rich Gulf countries, who have funneled billions of dollars to the Egyptian interim government to secure the success of the infamous coup that ousted the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Summarizing that these monarchic administrations had orchestrated the coup and given their full backing to the Egyptian army because they are scared of Egypt’s change in terms of “democracy, human rights and the people’s will” under Morsi’s leadership – since that could have echoes on the streets of their powerful kingdoms – Bozdağ said: “One must be blind not to see it. It’s that clear.”
A rather softer version of this criticism was voiced by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a week ago when he lashed out Western, Muslim and Gulf countries for their support to the coup plotters. Referring to the huge amount of financial support promised by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other rich Gulf countries, Erdoğan accused these administrations of being partners of the junta regime in Egypt.
Nevertheless, it’s my humble observation that the government members and the Foreign Ministry are still very cautious in publicly criticizing Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries given their strong economic and financial relations. This campaign of bashing monarchs will not bring about any further deterioration in ties with these countries but will surely have some repercussions on other regional issues like Syria.
(That’s why, perhaps, Erdoğan on Tuesday blamed Israel for being behind the coup before going further and saying that the Turkish government has evidence of it, citing a meeting between an Israeli justice minister and a French intellectual – a Jew of course – in 2011. He claimed that the Israeli minister predicted that the Muslim Brotherhood would not be allowed to take power even if it won elections.)
That’s why I believe senior Turkish government members preferred to direct their criticisms toward Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the Turkish secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). As they cannot demand the resignation of King Abdullah, it’s a lot easier to bash İhsanoğlu, who was elected to this position thanks to the great efforts of President Abdullah Gül during his stint as foreign minister in 2005.
This brings up questions about whether this campaign against İhsanoğlu also has something to do with the ongoing silent rift between Gül and Erdoğan. Recalling that İhsanoğlu has been under fire from pro-government newspapers for the last two years over Somalia and other issues, this anger against the OIC chief seems to have deeper roots.
Amid all these developments, Gül and Erdoğan came together to discuss the crisis in Egypt and Turkey’s position vis-à-vis the coup with the participation of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Along with its content, the timing of this meeting is also very important. The meeting was set to take place last Saturday but it was postponed at the last minute. Sources from the Prime Ministry had said the meeting would take place on Thursday as part of a routine meeting between the president and the prime minister. But following consultations between Gül’s and Erdoğan’s offices, the meeting took place on Tuesday, just a day before the National Security Council (MGK) meeting.
It’s well-known that Gül is one of the most critical figures toward the government’s foreign policy, and Tuesday’s meeting no doubt gave him the opportunity to voice his dissident views. The problem is to what extent the government will give an ear to the president’s advice and take steps to prevent Turkey’s “precious aloneness” from turning into “chronic loneliness.”