Monday, July 08, 2013

Egypt, Turkey and Gaza

The Turkish Government is highly upset at the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood Government in Egypt, since the AK Party of PM Erdogan had formed ties with the MB Government in Egypt. Recently Erdogan toured N. Africa to expand the influence of Turkey among the new Islamist governments there, especially in Tunisia and Egypt. So the overthrow of Pres. Morsi is a blow to Turkey as it is now. Yet, ironically, the secular forces in Egypt that brought about the overthrow of Morsi with the aid of the Egyptian Army are trying to bring about a revolution in Egypt that emulates the original Turkish model that Kemal Attaturk and the Turksih Army introduced in 1928, namely a secular Muslim country with pro-Western values.

I argued elsewhere that the two sets of rioting, in Tahrir Square in Cairo and in Taksim Square in Istanbul, are different in that the urban youth in Cairo want to bring in a new secular political system by overthrowing the control of political Islam while their counterparts in Istanbul are trying to protect a secular system from the encroachments of political Islam. Yet, the aims of both groups are essentially the same, to protect freedom of expression and belief from being dominated by political Islam. Once the control of an Islamic political party such as the Muslim Brotherhood is cemented, there will be no going back, its a case of "one man, one vote, one time." The parallel with Communism is not incidental.

This is why Morsi removed the leadership of the Egyptian Army as soon as he got into power, and also why PM Erdogan in Turkey accused the Army leadership there of planning a coup and had them arrested and tried. This conflict is between western secular values, that explicitly include separation of church and state, and Islamic values in which religion dominates all aspects of society. In both countries the Armed forces are ironically a guarantor of continued secular modernization, in Turkey because it is the basis of the Attaturk reform of modern Turkey and in Egypt partly because of the annual US donation of b$1.5 to the Egyptian Army that keeps it afloat. Otherwise in both places political Islam will dominate at the expense of the interests of the respective Army and of western values.

Note that while Pres. Bush supported the extension of democratic elections to Gaza, once Hamas, the Palestinain Muslim Brotherhood, got into power there, there were no more elections. The loss by Hamas of their support from Shia Iran, because they deserted Damascus and have taken an anti-Assad, pro-Sunni position, and their loss now of the substitute support from Pres. Morsi and the MB of Egypt, puts Hamas in a very difficult situation. The Egyptian Army have closed all crossings and tunnels between Egypt and Gaza and are currently battling the Salafist control of Sinai. Although there is no guarantee that they will succeed in pacifying Sinai, because Sinai has become a lawless region since the overthrow of Pres. Mubarak, nevertheless, these moves spell economic ruin for Gaza. It will be interesting to see how they react to the current situation, will they avoid conflict with Israel, or will they use the anti-Israel card as their claim to legitimacy? Perhaps Turkish PM Erdogan will further delay his planned visit to Gaza, since he won't be able to enter it either thru Israel or thru Egypt. What a shame!


Post a Comment

<< Home