WHEN the Justice and Development Party won the elections to rule Turkey, Muslims viewed the party as a moderate voice in Europe, and believed that it would work to promote the moderate face of Islam after being distorted by various terror movements that hid behind Islam to carry out atrocities throughout the world.
Also, everyone at that time had hoped that this party would restore Turkey’s Islamic identity after it was wiped out by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, especially when a secular dictatorship was imposed, which led to the execution of Prime Minister Adnan Menderes in 1960 when he restored the call to prayer in Arabic and introduced religious lessons in public schools.
However, this Arab and Islamic moral momentum increased with the constitutional amendments made by the party, and the confirmation of the Islamic identity of the state.
With this development, the Arabs began investing in Turkey, such that the Gulf money invested in the Turkish economy reached about $100 billion. Turkey turned into a touristic destination for the Saudis, Kuwaitis, Emiratis, and Arabs in general.
In the midst of the changes that Anatolia began to witness, the wave of the Arab Spring hit, and the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood Group emerged in it strongly. The Justice and Development Party revived the idea of the Ottoman Caliphate, and this was expressed very clearly by its former foreign minister and the official of the party Ahmed Daoud Ihsanoglu, who said, “Yes, we are the new Ottomans”.
From that time, the demons of the Muslim Brotherhood Group nurtured and promoted this idea in the minds of Turkish politicians. It was later portrayed that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the awaited caliph, and his country is the one that will restore the caliphate rule.
In light of this, the political project of the Ankara regime turned towards expansion and hegemony. It began interfering in the affairs of Arab countries, starting with Syria and Iraq, and later Libya, and before that Tunisia and Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood Group took over the power as it was arranged by Washington, and Dr. Mohammad Morsi was installed as a puppet, while the main engine of the state was the Guidance Office (Maktab al-Irshad).
It was clear that the “Brotherhood” regime sought to make this great country a prisoner of the Ottoman expansionist regime, and employed it to serve the ruler’s project with his new order. This prompted the Egyptian people to revolt a year after the group’s rule, and thus Ankara’s reaction was to provoke hostility towards Egypt and everyone who supported it, which in this case included the Gulf states especially Saudi Arabia.
Erdogan’s wrong policies with the Arab countries led to a contraction of the Turkish economy, as the foreign trade deficit increased by 102.7 percent. Its debts jumped to about $ 550 billion, and the exchange rate of the lira against the US dollar deteriorated from 2.5 to 8 lira.
Despite this, the leaders of Ankara failed to correct the mistake for ten years. They instead persevered in hostility and deluded their ability through media trumpets that broadcast from Turkey to subjugate the Gulf states and Egypt, such as claims of the Muslim Brotherhood Group about “Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square” and the daily insults and misinformation from the screens of 13 television channels broadcasted from Istanbul, and from the 300 newspapers published throughout Turkey.
The objective of this smearing campaign was an attempt to weaken the rule of President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, who continued with strength and support from the majority of Egyptians for eight years, or by raising the issue of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi to shake Saudi Arabia. On the contrary, that policy has led Turkey to lose its partnerships with these countries, the most important of which is the suspension of the Egyptian-Turkish economic integration plan.
In this regard, there are many facts that Ankara did not take into account, especially the phone call made by the Saudi monarch to Erdogan at midnight after Riyadh discovered the truth behind the Khashoggi murder, which was committed by some officials without the knowledge of the top Saudi leadership.
It was said that King Salman had told the Turkish president at the time that whatever had happened was not with his knowledge or the knowledge of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and that the criminals will receive their punishment, “as we did not order to harm a man who we wished was with his family in Saudi Arabia”.
Today, the questions in the minds of the majority of Gulf Arabs are – What did Turkey benefit from the failed adventures it tried during the past decade? Did this serve its faltering economy, or exacerbate the living crisis there?
In light of the new developments, perhaps an intelligent man in Turkey can grasp the historical lessons and look deeply into the meanings in the fifth Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid’s letter to Nicephorus of the Roman Empire when the latter insulted the Arab Caliph in his infamous letter. In response, the Caliph wrote, “In the name of Allah. From Harun Al-Rashid, Commander of the Faithful, to Nicephorus, the Roman dog … I have read your letter. You won’t hear, but you will see my response.”
Will the leaders of the Justice and Development Party remember that the Ottomans came from Central Asia to escape from the Mongols, and expanded until they became a large sultanate, but their star faded away when the sultans miscalculated, especially when it came to their relationship with the Arabs, their neighbors and Muslims?
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times