Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed Egypt’s military coup on the Israelis and the Gulf countries while wrecking Ankara’s ties with Egypt as well as blowing Turkish soft power. There are three reasons why Erdogan has been the sole world leader advocating for the Muslim Brotherhood, says Council on Foreign Relations analyst Steven A. Cook:
1) Turkey’s history of military interventions is hardly worth repeating, but suffice it to say that in the coups of 1960, 1971, 1980, and 1997 political forces representing pious Muslims suffered. The Turkish military was responsible for the development of a political system that was geared specifically to prevent the accumulation of Kurdish, Islamist, and at one time communist political power. The result was that many, especially in the West, saw the Turkish armed forces as a “moderating force” that ensured what people considered a democratic system. To Islamists, however, the military enforced a Jacobin-like secularism that repressed them …. Erdogan is correct that there is nothing democratic about the Egyptian military’s actions, but the Turkish prime minister seems to have willfully overlooked the fact that Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brothers hardly distinguished themselves as democrats over the course of the last year. It was clear that Morsi and the Guidance Office were seeking to institutionalize the power of their organization with little regard for the principles of democratic politics. Erdogan simply refuses to see the Egyptian dilemma or recognize that the Brothers had no intention of forging a democratic system.
2) When Erdogan rails against interest rate lobbies, blames foreign hands, blasts Gulf leaders, assails Egyptian generals, and ostentatiously weeps over Palestinian blood, he is connecting with his constituency. Everything the prime minister does is directly related to domestic politics so it does not matter that his rhetoric contributes to the erosion of Turkey’s strategic position in the region, because this type of rhetoric resonates deeply. The domestic turbulence as a result of the Gezi protests, in particular, has given Erdogan an opportunity to play on Turkish sensitivities about the predatory role of external powers. …..
3) Erdogan’s visceral response to what has happened to Morsi is a function of the Turkish leader’s own (more successful) efforts to do what the former Egyptian president tried. If you strip away the lore of a politically and economically liberalizing Turkey, the AKP has done what the Egyptian armed forces did not permit the Muslim Brotherhood to do. The Justice and Development Party has consolidated its power and in the process has made it exceedingly difficult to challenge the party in the formal political arena. The party’s members and their allies have used the last decade to exploit economic opportunities that are recycled through the political system, further institutionalizing the power of the party. Coming on the heels of the Gezi protests, Erdogan cannot allow anyone to draw parallels, however abstract, between the dynamics that led to the coup in Egypt and the political-economic circumstances that prevail in Turkey. The illiberal drift in Turkish politics renders the country’s political environment more like Egypt than, say, any of Ankara’s Western partners.