Ankara’s economic and political influence in the Middle East has been at its peak until the Arab Spring disrupted the political order in the region. Gradually, Turkey is becoming isolated in the region and the current foreign policy of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan may just whip up its loneliness.
The latest incident occurred on Tuesday when Prime Minister Erdogan accused Israel of orchestrating the coup in Egypt that has toppled the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Morsi, a close ally of the later.
The attempt by the army to seize power in Cairo has resonated through Turkey causing the imprisonment of many generals for alleged plot against Erdogan, who faced popular protests throughout the month of June.
Upset by the ouster of his Islamic ally in Egypt by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Erdogan accused leaders across the world, mainly from the West, to have entirely supported the military coup in Egypt and failed to support a democratically elected president.
“The West should learn the definition of democracy. If it doesn’t do that, these controversies and clashes will continue,” said Erdogan on Tuesday.
Ankara has also called the international community mainly the U.S, the U.N. Security Council and the Arab League to take immediate measures against Egypt’s current military leadership.
Delivering a speech to his Party’s Committee on Tuesday, Erdogan mainly accused the Israeli Government.
“Israel is behind this. We have a document to back this.”
He continued with a joke from a conference held in France in 2011: “A French intellectual, who was a Jew, together with [Israeli] Minister of Justice, said exactly this: Even if the Muslim Brotherhood won the election they will not win, because democracy is not the ballot box,” Mr. Erdogan said, referring to philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy.
Besides blaming Israel, Erdogan has also lashed out against wealthy Arab states for offering financial assistance to Egypt’s new military-backed government. His comments about “rich Arabs supporting dictators” didn’t pass unnoticed and have been widely interpreted as a blow against his Sunni allies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Reacting to these comments, the Israeli Government announced by a press statement that Erdogan’s accusation was “not worth commenting on.” The US Government has also qualified them “offensive, unsubstantiated and wrong” in a press briefing by the White House spokesman in Washington.
In the aftermath, Turkey has withdrawn its ambassador from Cairo for an unspecified period while demonstrations in support of Mohammed Morsi took place in Turkey.
While Turkey is losing its credibility as a democratic nation especially after the harsh police response against mostly peaceful demonstrators in June, Erdogan’s foreign policy is increasingly pushing the country into a global isolation.
Marie Chantal Uwitonze