Arab nationalist press Reacts to Erdogan’s Crackdown with cries of “Dictator!”

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s firing of some 50,000 people, including educators, bureaucrats, police and military personnel, in the wake of the failed July 15 coup against him, provoked sharp criticism in Egypt, Jordan and other Arab countries that have an adversarial attitude toward the Religious Right such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Erdogan has typically been an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots, and this secular/ religious politics split seems to account for the differences in how his actions are seen in various Arab countries.

In Egypt, Husain Yusuf of al-Yawm al-Sabi` (The Seventh Day) lambasted Erdogan. He said that the president’s interview on Wednesday on Qatar’s Aljazeera was intended to whitewash his dictatorial actions. Yusuf says that Erdogan is attacking everyone he perceives as an enemy, violating human rights, and pursuing a politics of exclusion. He slammed Erdogan as “Turkey’s Hitler.” He also criticized Erdogan for his diatribe against the Egyptian press coverage of the coup and its aftermath, saying that Erdogan appeared to be demanding that the Egyptian press just take the government line and ignore the “massacres” Yusuf says Erdogan’s government has committed against his opposition. In contrast, Yusuf maintained, the Egyptian press has just reported the facts in a dispassionate manner.

Yusuf says that Erdogan is hypocritical, since his government had sharply criticized Egypt for implementing a state of emergency in the Sinai Peninsula, while Erdogan has put all of Turkey in a state of emergency for at least three months. He said Erdogan despises Egypt because the country virtually ignores him.

Bassam Ramadan, writing in al-Masry al-Yawm (Egypt Today), quotes Egyptian observer Mustafa al-Fiqi that Erdogan is preparing to become a new dictator. He said Egypt’s overthrow of the previous government was completely unlike that in Turkey, since Egypt’s masses came out in favor of the military.

But actually, of course, the coup by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt and the counter-coup by Erdogan in Turkey look very similar in the firings, jailings and other tactics used.

BBC Monitoring surveyed some other outlets, writing,

“Many writers, especially from Egypt and Jordan criticised Erdogan’s decisions that directly affected more than 45,000 people, accusing him of trying to fully control the county and get rid of any sort of opposition. Some also described the coup as a play that aims to strengthen Erdogan’s reign.”

Another writer in the pro-government al-Yawm al-Sabi`, Abdel-Salam, wrote that “The European confusion in front of Erdogan’s policies will definitely make him a new Hitler with new weapons”.

In Jordan’s Al-Rai newspaper, Sameh al-Mahariq wrote, “What is happening now is political utilization of the coup to benefit Erdogan; a golden chance for that enabled him of launching a wide purging campaign.”

The Syrian al-Thawra (Revolution) had a piece speculating that more significant coups are on their way in Turkey.

The Gulf press was primarily interested in what the coup attempt might mean for Turkish-Iranian relationships and for themselves.

In the Kuwaiti government-owned centrist Al-Watan, Abdullah al-Hadlaq wrote, “The Iranian Persian regime is scared, terrified and frightened from the possibility of the military coup in Turkey being contagious…” He predicted that such a coup is coming in Iran.

Source: Middle East Arabic press review from BBC Monitoring in Arabic 0700 gmt 20 Jul 16

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10 Responses

  1. Well over 60,000 now, professor, and that’s only government sector. Doesn’t count the 21,000 private school teachers whose licenses were suspended and the 600 schools shut down.
    Ashish Kumar Jena struggles to keep an updated list at
    link to twitter.com

    We should also bear in mind that these purges have been ongoing since 2013, along with packing the Constitutional Court and shredding the constitution with a “de facto presidential system” that the government and its institutions haven’t yet caught up with (much to His consternation.)

    “Hitler” is over the top, Reichstag Fire analogies are not.

  2. Dear Juan, you report that

    “In Egypt, Husain Yusuf of al-Yawm al-Sabi` (The Seventh Day) lambasted Erdogan. He said that the president’s interview on Wednesday on Qatar’s Aljazeera was intended to whitewash his dictatorial actions. Yusuf says that Erdogan is attacking everyone he perceives as an enemy, violating human rights, and pursuing a politics of exclusion. He slammed Erdogan as “Turkey’s Hitler.”

    Hmmm, Erdogan as Turkey’s Hitler. That sounds about right to this outside observer, as of today … and if Erdogan and his supporters don’t like such a description, please, please, let them prove that such a description is all wrong.

    • Well, the Gulenists are “an armed terrorist organization,” as a Turkish (AKPli) judge said today. Armed, indeed, the ones in the army and the police anyway. This is the level of honesty one expects from AKP. Twas ever thus.

  3. Firing 50,000 people in Turkey is equivalent to firing 200,000 people in the U.S. if an American president were to do the same. Not good.

    • It’s substantially over 80,000 counting the private school teachers.
      By decree, no one suspended or sacked in the wake of the coup will ever work in a government job again.
      Updated closures include:
      – 35 hospitals
      – 1,043 private schools and dormitories
      – 15 private universities
      – 1,229 associations and foundations
      – 19 trade unions for links to Fethullah Gülen.
      Also, the police are now authorized to detain suspects for a month before taking them to court.

  4. “But actually, of course, the coup by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt and the counter-coup by Erdogan in Turkey look very similar in the firings, jailings and other tactics used.”

    These similarities are troubling. However, there are important differences in the events: the coup in Egypt and the foiled coup in Turkey. In Egypt, the military succeeded in toppling a democratically elected government (the first democratically elected government in Egypt). In Turkey, the military failed in toppling an increasingly authoritarian, yet sill democratically elected, government. This is an important distinction. Moreover, the coup attempt was roundly condemned by all Turkish parties, governing and opposition.

    What Saudi Arabia and it’s GCC allies (Egypt, UAE, Qatar) are doing is an unabashed attempt to impede democracy from taking hold in any middle east country. In the case of Bahrain and Egypt, the meddling of Saudi Arabia has been direct and evident.

    I always believed that the people of the middle east were willing to accept promises of stability in lieu of democratically elected governments, which is why Egyptians have not come out to strongly protest against the human rights abuses of the Sisi government. However, it seems to be the case that Saudi Arabia and it’s GCC allies are now not even willing to allow for stable governments in neighboring countries as they might provide some challenge to Saudi dominance. This is does not portend well for ordinary people in the middle east.

  5. Dr. Cole,
    You probably have covered this elsewhere, but what is the connection between Gulen and Erdogan, how were they once allies with a shared agenda, why did Gulen go into exile, and what is the background of their estrangement?

    • Gulen went into exile in 99 after the “postmodern coup.” they were allies because they both aimed at undermining the secular state and its bureaucracy. They disagreed on who was to rule afterward and once they ran out of common enemies, they had only each other left. It’s been open warfare since the 17/25 December affair in 2013, Gulen’s preemptive strike as AKP prepared to shut down Gulen’s schools and cram schools in Turkey, through which he recruits.

      I find this read more convincing than any Naksibendi/Sufi splits.

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