It would be reasonable to say that Turkey has been aware of the communication taking place between Turkey-based Muslim Brotherhood operatives and foreign parties, such as Russia and Iran. This discovery is not recent. In fact, the Brotherhood has always made its agenda clear to the Turkish authorities. Turkey has long been complacently turning a blind eye to all the wrongdoings of the Muslim Brotherhood, while keeping them under close watch and monitoring all their communications with London-based leaders and other leaders who had taken Asian countries as their headquarters to train their personnel. The Muslim Brotherhood has been known to follow this infiltration approach for over 80 years, and Turkey seemed to have accepted it. In fact, Turkey has allowed the Brotherhood to do its bidding, and used them to antagonize the Arab world after the Egyptians toppled the Brotherhood’s rule in 2013.
There is no denying that, for Turkey, it is a shrewd political move to assume control over an important ideological group that can impact the security of the Arab region, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been vocal about aspiring to rule. However, the question we must ask right now is, why do the tides seem to be shifting, what has changed? In short, and before going into detail, we can simply note the significant changes that have taken place in the Arab world, not to mention Turkey’s deteriorating economic and political conditions. When I mention the Arab world, I mean to refer to Egypt and major Gulf states, most importantly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, with the support of the Gulf states, has revived the economy, which was on the verge of collapse. Unlike common belief, al-Sisi is not the weak or hardline leader some Westerners believe him to be; in fact, the people of Egypt see al-Sisi as Egypt's savior, who revived economic growth and maintained internal stability. Egypt today has emerged much stronger than ever before because the crisis was managed efficiently. Over time, it has become clear that the main issue can be attributed to patriotism and loyalty, as well as deprioritizing Egypt’s national interests in favor of serving the interests of other countries as influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Thankfully, Egypt has valiantly recovered and proved to be capable of standing on its own two feet as it set its course towards flourishing growth. In one way or another, this applies to the Gulf states, which have shown more dedication towards cooperating and pursuing mutual interests as opposed to focusing on the known differences between them. Saudi Arabia, as the most prominent Gulf country, has boosted its economic influence as part of its successful policies in managing the energy file. It has also made major economic reforms that have attracted investors from all over the world. Also, it is noteworthy to highlight the impressive level of courage and transparency Saudi Arabia has displayed in handling the issue of corruption publicly. There has been a major cultural shift within the Saudi community, and we have seen Saudis voice their unwavering support for their young influential leader. Media outlets all over the world took notice of this unmatched solidarity displayed by the people of Saudi Arabia. Naturally, all these factors contributed to enhancing Saudi Arabia’s political influence.
It is a known fact that a cohesive community with internal harmony cannot be weakened and destabilized. All these positive reforms have strengthened Egypt and the Gulf states and protected them from the impacts of regional disintegration and instability caused by the ongoing uprisings that have afflicted the region since 2011. Egypt and the Gulf have been smart enough to learn from the conflicts and crises happening all around them.
The worsening conditions in Turkey were met by an unwavering Arab position that stood on solid foundations due to the internal reforms each country was keen on implementing. Unlike Turkey, which distributed its interests and funds all the way from Armenia in the east to Libya in the west. This disparity between the two sides led to the outcome that we see today. Turkey seems to be drained and depleted, so it decided to rethink its positions which have jeopardized Turkey’s stability and strength, causing the country that was previously a symbol of political and religious moderation to fall from grace. It appears that Turkey is in the process of correcting its mistakes, which brought nothing but the hostility of their Arab, European, American, Russian, and even Iranian allies.
Furthermore, Turkey has halted the measures it has been taking in Libya, which targeted Egypt’s security. It has also abandoned the Muslim Brotherhood, restricted the movement of its leaders, and imposed strict conditions on their Television channels to put an end to its hostile media policies that used to ceaselessly level all sorts of unfounded accusations and hurl insults against the Egyptian government. Almost overnight, the media content on three of the most famous Muslim Brotherhood Television channels switched from insulting Egypt’s leadership to covering International Mother's Day and the International Day of Happiness.
It would seem that the Muslim Brotherhood returned to facing the same problem that was faced by the Israelis, who were cursed to wander the lands in search of a home, trying to leave Turkey for a country that would take them in. They are now attempting to distribute their leaders across Asia and Europe. Becoming a diaspora was not something they anticipated. At this point, the main problem facing the Brotherhood is not related to safeguarding their influential figures, who have money and strong relations, but rather, the youth, who adopted the Brotherhood’s mindset and committed crimes against countries that opened its doors to them and offered them shelter in the Gulf and even in their own home country, Egypt. The latest developments have left these individuals in a major crisis; their economic conditions in Turkey are terrible to the point that they are on the verge of losing their livelihood and shelter, they even lack proper identity documents that would give them the freedom of movement and travel. It has been said that the panic that struck them due to Turkey turning against them is similar to the panic that some experienced on the night Former US President Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, despite the fact that President Joe Biden's administration is actually one of the factors that played a role in Turkey’s shifting position.
It is not my intention to revel in anyone’s misfortune, but we cannot deny that the Brotherhood has committed a multitude of terrorist activities and betrayals which made it a hated group that brings misfortune wherever it goes. In the Gulf in particular, followers of the Sururist Movement have attempted to destabilize many societies with the aim of dominating them and spreading their poisonous mindsets to turn the people against their leaders.
I may address this issue in a future article.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.