Turkey losing clout amid Egypt crises

2013-08-16 12:00
(Ozan Kose, AFP)

(Ozan Kose, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Ankara - Turkey's clout in the Middle East is taking a beating with the brutal sidelining of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood derailing Ankara's hopes to lead a regional surge of Islamist political power, analysts say.

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was an early supporter of the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak and subsequently nourished close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkey invested both politically and financially in the Arab world's most populous country after Mohammed Morsi was sworn in as Egypt's first democratically elected leader in June 2012, aiming to bolster Ankara's influence and show that Turkey was not the only country where Islam and democracy could coexist.

Morsi's ouster and the brutal crackdown on his supporters have now dealt a harsh blow to Turkey's dreams of playing a leadership role in the broader Middle East region in the wake of the Arab Spring, analysts said.

"Turkey hoped the transformation in the Middle East would work in its favour because it would gain clout if Muslim Brotherhood-type governments came to power in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria," said Professor Ilter Turan at Istanbul's Bilgi University.

"This plan did not work in Syria, and it collapsed in Egypt," he told AFP.

"Turkey is forced into isolation in the Middle East, losing its control of the situation in the region."

Politically isolated

Nato member Turkey had banked on expanding its influence in the Middle East thanks to robust economic growth under the AKP and an Arab power vacuum created by the region's popular uprisings.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a popular leader on the Arab street because of his angry outbursts over Israel's treatment of Palestinians, has championed democracy movements across the region and sought to position his country as a role model and moral compass.

After the fall of dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, his government allied itself with the Muslim Brotherhood and Tunisia's moderate Islamist party Ennahda, which heads the country's new coalition cabinet.

And Erdogan has emerged as one of the fiercest critics of his former ally Bashar Assad as the uprising against the Syrian leader turned into a fully-fledged civil war.

Turkey sharply condemned Wednesday's deadly crackdown on pro-Morsi protesters, which Erdogan termed a "massacre" and President Abdullah Gul called "unacceptable".

"The frustration voiced by Turkey's leaders stems not only from the pictures of violence or failure of democracy in Egypt, but also from the collapse of the government's dreams to become a regional player," Turan said.

Morsi was overthrown by the military on 3 July after massive protests against his rule, leaving Egyptians divided between his supporters and those who argue he let the economy tumble while seeking to concentrate power in Islamist groups' hands.

Erdogan condemned Morsi's ouster as a "coup", a stance that has infuriated the interim government in Cairo and sharply curbed Turkey's ability to influence events in Egypt.

"Turkey has responded morally to the crisis but politically it's isolated," said Huseyin Bagci a professor at Ankara's Middle East Technical University.

Analysts also said events in post-Mubarak Egypt had strained relations between a trio of Sunni powers - Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - that were once united in their stance.

Bagci argued that Turkey, already embarrassed by the unprecedented anti-AKP protests that swept the nation in June, is now too isolated to claim a leadership role.

"Turkey has lost its chances of leadership in the region," he said.

Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, said that Sunni split would have regional implications.

"The Sunni coalition that was going to make Turkey stronger in the Middle East has collapsed after the Egypt crisis," he told AFP.

"This will impact regional policies, including on Syria."

Read more on:    recep tayyip erdogan  |  hosni mubarak  |  bashar assad  |  mohammed morsi  |  egypt  |  syria  |  turkey  |  egypt conflict  |  syria conflict

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.