Voices from the Arab Press: Boycotting Turkey

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world.

Anti-government demonstrators take pictures of a metal sculpture spelling out "revolution" topped by flames. (photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR / REUTERS)
Anti-government demonstrators take pictures of a metal sculpture spelling out "revolution" topped by flames.
(photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR / REUTERS)
Boycotting Turkey: Security and Economic Necessity
Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, October 24
A popular campaign has been spreading across our country like wildfire: the boycott of Turkish products, goods, and services. My hope is that popular campaigns of this sort, in Saudi Arabia and beyond, will finally be able to influence Turkey and serve as the last nail in Erdogan’s coffin, forcing him to step down. Erdogan is facing problems from almost every direction. On top of his growing opposition at home, he is encountering tremendous pressure abroad, in places like Turkey and Algeria, where Turkish troops and mercenaries are deployed to carry out their czar’s grandiose ambition of reviving the Ottoman Empire.
Erdogan is deeply committed to this vision of Ottoman greatness. It is this idea that guides almost every one of his decisions. It is also this idea that pitted Turkey against nearly every other country in the world, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt. Indeed, Turkey under Erdogan’s rule has become an imminent threat to all Arab countries. This makes the downfall of Erdogan an urgent priority for the Arab world. There is no way to achieve this goal except to apply immense pressure on the Turkish economy and force its leadership to change its ways. The entire free world, not just the Arab Gulf, would benefit from Erdogan’s departure. Turkey is one of the world’s largest and most important sponsors of terrorism. Take, for example, ISIS, which is still fighting in Syria and Iraq thanks to ongoing Turkish support.
All of this is happening right before the eyes of Europe and America, yet not a single country has lifted a finger to intervene in this situation. Add to all of this the cheap Turkish products that are flooding international markets and undermining local industries. Morocco, for instance, was forced to impose tariffs on Turkish cotton in order to protect its own cotton industry. Jordan is planning on taking similar action, as is Algeria. These new tariffs, together with the boycott movement taking shape in the Gulf, will ultimately constitute a large and powerful financial force against Turkey. Erdogan has already asked his cronies in Qatar to assist him in curbing this new campaign. In response, Qatar bribed Saudi expatriates living in London and Canada to speak up against the boycott campaign waged by their compatriots. Similar efforts have been carried out to convince the people of Iraq to stand by Turkey. But this attempt, too, is doomed to fail. Let’s not forget that it was Turkey that made its bases available to the Americans when they chose to invade Iraq. Saudi Arabia, in contrast, refused to be complicit in the war that destroyed Iraq. The important thing, dear readers, is to continue this campaign no matter what. I have no doubt that the boycott will grow larger and larger, forcing the Turkish people to rid themselves of this ghoul who is sending their country backward.
– Muhammad Al-Sheikh

Michel Aoun and Coming To Terms With Reality

Al-Rai, Kuwait, October 22
It’s unclear why the Lebanese leadership is wasting time when we all know that any delay in forming a government makes the task of saving whatever can be saved of Lebanon close to impossible. At the end of the day, time plays against Lebanon’s interest. The foundations on which the Lebanese state has been built have been systematically demolished in recent years, beginning with the decision to allow Hezbollah to continue to arm itself and act as a state within a state. Hezbollah obliterated one state institution after another and filled the political vacuum each one of them left behind. Unfortunately, Lebanon’s next largest enemies are those who refuse to acknowledge the damage to their country caused by Hezbollah.
This includes Michel Aoun, who was elected as president four years ago. Lebanon’s downfall began with the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri on February 14, 2005. Those who assassinated Hariri killed not only Lebanon’s most influential politician but also Lebanon’s hope of ever restoring life to itself. Indeed, they destroyed Beirut in order to block any attempt to rearrange the Lebanese political system. Instead of wasting time and trying to settle scores with others, President Michel Aoun should have acted straight and to the point. Instead of hoping that the last two years of his presidency could save him, he should have taken an early retirement and acknowledged the end of an era in Lebanese politics. Whether Aoun likes it or not, his era already ended when the banks stole the money of the Lebanese people.
This era ended with the explosion in the Port of Beirut, which symbolized Lebanon’s openness to the world. Only a president who is so disconnected from the people and detached from reality can deal with small politics at a time when his entire country is sinking. Some simplification of things is more than necessary. Simplifying matters means that the “Shi’ite duo” (Hezbollah and the Amal Movement) – which took it upon themselves to negotiate with Israel to confirm that they are the only party capable of making big decisions in Lebanon – cannot obstruct the formation of a new government. Simplifying matters also means that Lebanon’s number one priority is to launch a government that would focus all of its resources on negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and a bailout plan for Lebanon.
 – Kheir Allah Kheir Allah
Can we believe US polls to predict election outcomes?
Al-Etihad, UAE, October 24
With only a few short weeks left until the US presidential elections, all eyes are set to Washington in anticipation of discovering who will step into the Oval Office come January. Opinion polls are being published almost daily, with some predicting a victory for Trump while others pointing in Biden’s favor. The real question is, of course, whether these polls are credible at all. Ultimately, polls are a statistical tool used to estimate the sentiment of the entire population, but they are far from precise. For example, some of Trump’s strongest supporters – those living in the so-called Bible Belt – typically refrain from participating in polling as a matter of principle. This may explain why Biden seems to be faring better than Trump in national polls. Interestingly, one tool pollsters typically overlook in their work is Google. An analysis of 32 of the previous US primary elections shows that in 27 of them, or 84%, results were predicted accurately by observing Google’s search interests. The more people search for a candidate, the more likely he or she is to win. The question now is what would happen if we applied this same logic to the current elections? According to Psychology Today, Trump has managed to generate far more interest at the national level. However, a lot of the search terms mentioning his name revolve around his controversial policies that created deep divisions in American society. Perhaps a more important predictor of the election outcomes isn’t Google but social media platforms. These platforms have become monumental tools in shaping voters’ perceptions and attitudes and influencing their ultimate vote. Therefore, it’s still hard to predict who exactly will win. This ambiguity is made worse by tight races in some of the most important swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania, alongside the difficulty in voting due to COVID-19. No one can deny that these will be monumental elections – perhaps the most important ones in American history. In a way, these elections are not about the future identity of the president as much as they are about the future identity of the American democracy and political institutions.

– Emil Amin
UAE Promoting Normalization With Israel Through Sudan’s Military Apparatus
Al-Araby Al-Jadid, London, October 25
While the issue of normalization between Israel and Sudan has been on the agenda for the past few years, the breakthrough in establishing ties between the two countries was only achieved this year, after the United Arab Emirates sponsored a meeting that brought together Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Ugandan city of Entebbe. Although the Sudanese public, steeped in its own internal problems, did not react – either positively or negatively – to this meeting, the Sudanese ruling authority tried to undermine its effect by delegating the decision on any future move with Israel to the executive branch. However, successive developments took place behind the scenes, including the arrival of several Israeli planes to Sudan, allowing Burhan and Netanyahu to maintain a direct line of communication. Since Burhan assumed the presidency of the Military Council on April 13, it has been clear that there is a close relationship between a number of the council’s members, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. However, several notable developments, including the continuation of the Sudanese participation in the Yemeni Civil War, raised doubts about how this relationship would proceed. It was clear that the UAE was keen to ensure that Sudan’s military apparatus maintain a position of power in any future political arrangement in Sudan. This push to place the military at the forefront of Sudan’s politics paved the way for the normalization of ties with Israel. Israeli efforts to normalize relations with Sudan are certainly not new. They emerged in the 1950s, when direct contacts were made between Tel Aviv and the nationalist Umma party, affiliated with the Ansar sect. Then, attempts were repeated during the rule of former Sudanese president Jaafar Nimeiri between 1969 and 1985, when Nimeiri met with the then-defense minister Ariel Sharon on a farm in Kenya in 1982 in order to coordinate the transfer of Falasha Jews from Ethiopia to Israel. The era of ousted president Omar al-Bashir (from 1989 to 2019) also featured several Israeli attempts to normalize ties directly with the Foreign Relations Committee of the Sudanese National Dialogue.
After the outbreak of the revolution that toppled Omar al-Bashir, the country suddenly moved away from its historic alliance, of which Khartoum was one of its most prominent links. Ultimately, Sudan’s desire to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and the hope of mending its thorny relations with America provided the right conditions for talks with Israel. However, many in Sudan believe that any Emirati attempt to push for a comprehensive normalization is unlikely to be successful for many reasons, including Abu Dhabi’s failure to strengthen pro-Gulf Sudanese political figures, such as the vice president of the Sovereignty Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. The ongoing political crisis in the country also presents an obstacle to the issue of normalization with Israel, as this matter deepens internal Sudanese disagreements. Some voices within Sudan already described this move as “political bribe,” claiming that Israeli or American benefits will not change the country’s stance on Israel and its occupation of Palestinian lands.
– Al-Araby Al-Jadid staff
Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.