Voices from the Arab press: How long will we keep silent about Turkey?

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

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the re-opening of the Ottoman-era Yildiz Hamidiye mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, August 4, 2017 (photo credit: MURAD SEZER/REUTERS)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the re-opening of the Ottoman-era Yildiz Hamidiye mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, August 4, 2017
(photo credit: MURAD SEZER/REUTERS)
Al-Arab, London, August 28
Even if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wins the election and enters the White House, it is unlikely that he will restore former president Barack Obama’s old policies on Iran.
It is clear today beyond any reasonable doubt that Iran is on the path of building nuclear weapons. Indeed, the Iranian nuclear program is clearly designed for military purposes, not civilian ones. Anyone claiming otherwise is lying. Iran dreams of possessing a lethal weapon in order to establish itself as a regional hegemon and to enable itself to continue in its quest for regional domination.
The money handed over to the Iranian regime as a part of the nuclear deal was directly funneled into expanding its weapons capabilities and funding its militias around the Arab world. The US seems to have finally come to terms with this reality. Following the Obama era, US policymakers are now seeing Iran’s true colors. They understand that the only thing the nuclear deal achieved was a slowdown in Iran’s race for the bomb, not the elimination of its nuclear program.
Iran is still determined to possess the bomb, which the countries that are still adhering to the nuclear agreement know. Israel also helped reveal this danger. Iran’s efforts to expand its program in new sites prompted the Israeli military to conduct direct strikes against various facilities in Iran, whether through raids or covert action. The Iranians believe that the sanctions against them are linked to the presence of Donald Trump in the White House and that once he is removed and a Democratic president is elected to replace him, those sanctions will be lifted. And because the Iranians believe in their ability to deceive, they hope the aggressive blockade on them will end as soon as Biden wins.
This reveals their fundamental misunderstanding of politics and their inability to grasp how democratic countries operate. Yes, it is true that Obama’s personal worldview played a big role in his decision to appease and pacify Iran. However, it is also true that Obama was surrounded by a battery of advisers and experts who closely studied how Tehran responded to sticks and carrots. The next Democratic president will not be another Obama – simply because the political apparatus surrounding him won’t allow him to be one.
What is most ironic about the Iranian nuclear issue is that the Iranian regime, represented by its cunning foreign minister, Muhammad Javad Zarif, has never even bothered denying its ambition. Zarif repeatedly talks about his country’s desire to have nuclear weapons to defend itself. It is almost unfathomable that the Europeans refuse to listen to these statements, hoping instead to “protect” the peaceful Iran they have constructed in their imaginations. Time and again, European leaders have failed to deal with Iran’s violations of the agreement in a serious manner. Instead, they encourage Iran to continue with its dangerous behavior.
Thankfully, more and more countries are beginning to understand that the American fear was right all along. Iran is the biggest threat to global peace and security today.
– Farouk Youssef
Al-Bayan, UAE, August 27
In 2014, my Saudi colleague Jasser Al-Jasser wrote an opinion piece calling on his government to impose a ban on all travel between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In his piece, he implored other Gulf states to do the same, given Turkey’s disinterest in stopping the flow of fighters into the hands of Islamic State and Al-Nusra in Syria.
Al-Jasser’s plea was not answered. However, today, the countries of the Gulf can no longer afford to sit idly by as Turkey continues to threaten the security and stability of our entire region. Ankara, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, is an unabashed supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and is clear about its aspiration to lead the entire Muslim world by restoring the Ottoman caliphate.
Erdogan’s Turkey is no longer a friendly country with good intentions toward us. The opposite is true: Turkey has become one of the most malicious nations in the world, deploying mercenaries all over the region and destabilizing the security and stability of distant countries in an effort to lock in political and financial gains. In his most recent inflammatory speech against Egypt, Erdogan described President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi as a “tyrant.” Last year, Ankara directly undermined the legitimacy of the Egyptian government by hosting and embracing a group of Egyptian “revolutionaries” who sought to carry out a coup in their country.
Furthermore, Ankara has been a steady source of support to the Hamdeen regime in Doha, led by the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who has led a boycott of four Arab countries. Finally, we must not forget the close cooperation between Erdogan’s Brotherhood regime and the Iranian mullahs, whose efforts to undermine the stability of Gulf Cooperation Council states are widely known. Given these repeated attacks and Turkey’s hostile stance toward Arab people, how can we ever trust Ankara? Given Erdogan’s vulgar aggression against Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Libya, how can we stay silent?
– Dr. Abdullah Al-Madani
Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, August 27
Any observer of history and politics knows that Sudan is a strategic extension of Egypt and that Egypt is a strategic extension of Sudan. The relationship between the two countries has been an important one since the dawn of time.
But these relations have changed and evolved over the years, not always for the better. The ups and downs have been directly affected by the nature of the regimes in both Cairo and Khartoum. Regardless, Egypt has always viewed Sudan as one single unit and refrained from siding with one party over another.
These bilateral relations have witnessed three key milestones throughout history. The first and most notable one took place after the July Revolution of 1952, when the Unionist Party headed by Ismail Al-Azhari abandoned the idea of the “unity of the Nile Valley,” turned its back on the idea of uniting with Egypt and declared Sudan’s independence. Historians agree that Egypt’s realignment toward the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Nasser and Naguib, inherently came at the expense of unity with Sudan.
The second milestone was the 1969 rise to power of Jaafar Nimeiry, who led Sudan to its best relations with Egypt. Nimeiry refused to join other Arab countries in boycotting Egypt following its signing of a peace deal with Israel. He worked closely with the governments of Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak until he was ousted from power in 1985, during the Sudanese civil war. His relations with Egypt’s leaders were so close that Nimeiry sought asylum in Cairo, where he was honored and dignified until returning to his country in 1999. In one of my conversations with him during his exile in Egypt, Nimeiry recalled how close the relationship between the Egyptian and Sudanese people had been, especially during the 1967 setback, when Sudan supported Egypt both militarily and diplomatically.
The third milestone was the so-called National Salvation Revolution of 1989, inspired by the ideology of the Islamic Front and the Muslim Brotherhood, which brought to power Omar al-Bashir. The coup was a clear turning point in Sudanese-Egyptian relations, as Bashir’s regime adopted outwardly hostile stances against Cairo. The results were immediate: Bashir shut down the Cairo University in Khartoum, revoked agreements with the Egyptian government and launched border disputes with Egypt, especially along the Halayib Triangle.
When the Bashir regime that divided Sudan fell in 2019, the people of Sudan and Egypt breathed a sigh of relief. The new leadership, under the Transitional Military Council, began rebuilding Khartoum’s relations with Cairo with the hope that the two peoples would build a better future for themselves and the region. This attitude was reflected in the Sudanese position during the recent negotiations over the Renaissance Dam [in Ethiopia], reminding all of us, on both sides of the border, that the historical ties between our two peoples are long-lasting and deeply rooted.
– Mustafa Elfeki
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Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.