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  Middle East & Africa
Letters from Tokyo
Egypt, Jordan and Turkey: Political Crisis and War Mongering Erdogan Angers Syria
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent
Egypt, Jordan and Turkey: Political Crisis and War Mongering Erdogan Angers Syria

The Middle East and North Africa continues to teeter since political and religious convulsions began to rock many societies. Each nation is faced with different problems because some countries have major internal issues, whereas other nations like Libya and Syria have been blighted by outside nations which seek their own personal objectives. Within these major convulsions you have witnessed a growing Sunni Islamist reality, increased terrorism, failed states, widening ethnic issues, increasing pressure on secularists, economic woes and other major factors.

It is clear that outside nations like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf states have implemented a very hostile policy towards Syria whereby sectarianism, terrorism and the destabilization of this nation is ongoing. France and the United Kingdom are also playing a major part in the current crisis in Syria because in recent months it is clear that elements in Washington have cooled dramatically because of the growing Islamist angle. Despite this, Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey continues to enable the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other Islamist terrorist organizations to obtain more powerful military hardware, breathing space during the ebb and flow of the conflict in Syria and in a host of other ways. This also notably applies to trying to get NATO to become another party in the destabilization of Syria.

Internally, it is more than apparent that many nationals in Turkey are upset by the stance of Erdogan. This is based on his open support for the destabilization of Syria and the genuine fear that Erdogan will try to turn the screw against secularism at home. In this sense, the political crisis in Egypt may become a similar issue in the future if Erdogan gets his way with attacking secularism from within. Turkey is a very mature society which is blessed with many powerful institutions. However, in recent times some of these power processes have been attacked in a very under-handed way by Erdogan.

Syria is the one nation throughout the entire Arabic speaking Middle East which is a beacon of secularism and being independent. Over the last forty years enormous development and modernization became part and parcel of the political and economic dynamics of this nation. This was despite all the negativity of the Cold War and the fear that the Muslim Brotherhood would become “a cancer from within.” After all, it is known that the Muslim Brotherhood despises religious freedom, the emancipation of women and civil society being based on secularism. It is very simplistic to point the finger at the ruling party in Syria by ignoring all the above realities. The same applies to ignoring past colonialism and how this nation opened its door to millions of refugees which have fled various conflicts.

If Syria collapses then the one “independent and secular light” would witness more chaos in the Levant. This in turn would be followed by the complete reliance of Arabic speaking nations on major international and regional powers, which seek to crush secularism and open society. It is ridiculous that feudal monarchies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Gulf states, are enforcing their own foreign policy objectives on other nations while ignoring the most basic forms of human rights internally. Therefore, the struggle between continuing modernization and secularism is being fought out in Syria against the “dark forces” of Islamist policy goals, sectarianism, persecution of religious minorities and crushing the rights of women. Somehow, nations like the United Kingdom and France have opted for the “dark forces” of nations like Saudi Arabia and Qatar against Syria where all religions are openly allowed to flourish.

Jordan is also being brought into the destabilization of Syria irrespective of the real power processes within the ruling elites. This is because of the economic influence of outside nations on Jordan and the strong ties with nations like the United Kingdom and America which have geopolitical goals. However, Jordan also faces many internal issues which could overwhelm the ruling power structures of this nation. Therefore, outside nations should understand that by destabilizing Syria they are also increasing major problems for their so-called allies. Regionally and internationally this could backfire dramatically with regards to international terrorism, regional convulsions which create failed states, sectarianism, utter chaos, increasing religious persecution and a major downturn for the situation of women in society, given the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations throughout the entire region.

President Mohammed Mursi (Morsi) of Egypt is now trying to increase his power leverages over society and this is raising alarm bells within this nation. It is unknown why people are surprised because clearly Mursi comes from a world which belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood. Given this reality, it is more than apparent that this movement doesn’t support society based on democracy, religious freedom, female emancipation and secularism. If the Muslim Brotherhood at least believed in some progressive forces, then it could have been understood why nations have turned a blind eye but clearly this isn’t the case.

On the website Ahram Online, it is stated that “15 political parties and groups have called on their supporters to protest against President Mohamed Morsi’s power grab on Tuesday in Cairo, following his new constitutional declaration that shields his decision from judicial oversight and deems the Constituent Assembly immune from dissolution by court.”

“Parties and groups who announced the call for Tuesday are also staging a sit-in in Tahrir Square, where tens of thousands demonstrated Friday in protest against Morsi’s decree.”

On the Facebook page of the Constitution Party (Dostour Party) it is stated that “We are facing a historic moment in which we either complete our revolution or we abandon it to become prey for a group that has put its narrow party interests above the national interest.” This sentiment is shared by many Egyptians irrespective of religion, gender, no faith and political persuasion. Therefore, the new powers that Morsi wants to control may be the start of a slippery slope which many people feared given his Muslim Brotherhood background.

Turkey and the role of Saudi Arabia and Qatar throughout the region is also very worrying. After all, these nations have opened up terrible political vacuums which are detrimental for the entire region of the Middle East and North Africa. Erdogan is clearly a destabilizing factor because he doesn’t respect the sovereignty of Iraq and Syria. In the case of Syria this is most alarming because Erdogan is enabling the Gulf and Western ratlines to openly support sectarianism, terrorism and sedition by allowing “dark forces” to use the territory of Turkey. Alongside this, Erdogan is also playing a double-game which is being ignored by many regional nations because he wants to increase the power of NATO by stealth.

Erdogan can’t be blamed for past policies towards the violation of the sovereignty of Northern Cyprus but clearly he cares little about meddling in Iraq, Syria and the internal affairs of Israel. Indeed, Erdogan is the only regional leader to displease the competing forces of Iran, Syria and Israel because of his policies of destabilization and wild rhetoric. It could well be that Erdogan dreams of “a new Turkey” which fuses Islamism within the remnants of the colonial past of the Ottoman Empire. This not only applies to the Middle East because Turkey is also intent on spreading its influence throughout the Balkans, where certain remnants of the past remain based on religion and cultural identity. Of course, Turkey is a very complex nation which could also become destabilized if powerful internal forces are weakened too much within this nation. At the same time the Kurdish angle, Alevi angle and secular issues could well come back to haunt Erdogan and Turkey if he continues to up the ante against Syria.

In another article by Modern Tokyo Times with regards to Jordan it was stated that “Zaki Bani Arshid, political bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood in Amman, stated that ‘In particular we demand certain amendments to the constitution which lead to the formation of a parliamentary government.’ The Muslim Brotherhood is also hoping for greater political representation in Jordan based on their political powerbase. Also, with the growing rise of Islamist based politics in Egypt and Tunisia, then this organization clearly believes that the time is right to challenge the status quo.”

“Another major bone of contention is the ethnic angle whereby Jordanians of Palestinian backgrounds are marginalized in favor of native Jordanians. The vast majority of native Jordanians support King Abdullah but clearly you have divisions within both groups when it comes to political reforms.”

It is clear that enormous problems exist throughout many nations in the Middle East and North Africa. However, the destabilization of Libya and Syria added to the woes to a degree that was unimagined several years ago. Indeed, the crisis in Libya also destabilized Northern Mali and today Sufi Islam is under attack in both nations and terrorists now have a major base to create more mayhem throughout the region. Libya is currently a failed state and the same applies to Mali. Therefore, the regional power of Syria was bound to create even more problems related to internal and external issues. Yet, instead of “forces of light” being extolled by outside nations, it is only the “forces of darkness” based on terrorism and sectarianism which can be seen. Iraq also continues to suffer under the “failed state” reality therefore recent political events are merely creating more chaos and hatred.

It is time for regional nations and outside players to look deeply into these events because currently it is difficult to see many positives materializing. On the contrary, more failed states, religious persecution and terrorism is following in the wake of nations which are trying to enforce their own political objectives. It is also time to tame the feudal monarchies of the Gulf region and give more attention to the crisis in Bahrain and the systematic persecution of religious minorities.

How can the Middle East and North Africa develop when failed states already exist in Iraq, Libya, and Yemen? Similarly, on the fringes of this area you have the failed state scenario in Mali and Somalia and clearly Sudan remains in crisis because of internal issues. If the destabilization of Syria continues then this may be the final “nail in the coffin” for the entire region. This is based on the demise of secularism and religious pluralism under the current government which faces “Talibanization” if outside nations continue to support terrorism and sectarianism against Syria. Lebanon also must be worried about the sectarian angle because the new Islamist agenda and Salafi indoctrination does not consider competing forces.

The above story was written by Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker.

The above article is from Modern Tokyo Times
http://moderntokyotimes.com

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com



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Lee Jay Walker serves as Tokyo Correspondent of The Seoul Times. He specializes in int'l relations and geopolitics. He is also involved in analyst work and research on business. After finishing BA degree in East European Studies at the University of London, he earned MA degree in Asia Pacific Studies at Nottingham Trent University. His website is at http://www.leejaywalker.wordpress.com

 

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