A selection of opinions and analysis from Arab journalists writing from and about the Middle East.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR ERDOGAN
Al-Arab, London, June 26
By Kheir Allah Kheir Allah
In Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan rose to power. And in Istanbul began his fall: a man who believed that he, alone, could change the nature of the Turkish political system and consolidate all constitutional powers in his own hands. Erdogan was able to combine the authority of the president and the prime minister into one position.
He became an autocratic ruler whose power outweighed that of any other politician. But in the recent local elections held in the country, Erdogan lost control over Istanbul for the second time in three months.
Winning Istanbul’s mayorship was of special importance to Erdogan’s party. It was a symbolic victory it needed. But the election of the opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu sent an important message to the Turkish leader: The people of Istanbul reject not only his 16-year rule, but also his Muslim Brotherhood-like politics that have changed the face of Turkish society. Erdogan wanted to show that he could secure Turkey’s expansion in all directions and restore the glory days of the Ottoman Empire. He counted on the Muslim Brotherhood to help him achieve this goal. But in the process, he failed to see that the Brotherhood is nothing more than a weak organization that is incapable of overseeing a modern state and its institutions.
The first time Ekrem Imamoglu won the Istanbul municipal elections, his victory over his rival, Binali Yildirim, stood at 13,500 votes. Between March 31, when elections were held for the first time, and June 23, when elections were held for the second time, this difference jumped to 800,000 votes. If this proves anything, it shows that the Turkish people know perfectly well that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a failed politician. Erdogan has proved to be just another Brotherhood bully with no limits to his desire to consolidate wealth and power, including within his own party. Erdogan himself, when he was mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s, claimed that “he who loses Istanbul loses Turkey.” He is now on his way to losing Turkey, whose people resisted a clear attempt to impose a new dictatorship on the country similar to the military dictatorship of the 1980s.
Turkey did not emerge from that dictatorship only to fall under the dictatorship of the Muslim Brotherhood. That is the clear message that the people of Istanbul wanted to convey to the Turkish president. This is the beginning of the end for Erdogan, who turned out to be another Third-World dictator whose thirst for power can never be quenched. Erdogan fell into the trap of the Muslim Brotherhood and set the Turkish economy, its foreign affairs and its social progress decades back. He failed to learn from his mistakes. He became drunk with power and thought he could sweep his failures under the rug. But the elections proved him wrong.
– Kheir Allah Kheir Allah
KUWAIT’S BOYCOTT OF THE MANAMA WORKSHOP WAS A MISTAKE
Al-Anba, Kuwait, June 28
By Saleh Al-Shayi
Why did Kuwait refrain from attending the Manama workshop? Why was it the only Gulf state to boycott the conference? I’m reminded of the Camp David years and the disagreements that soon ensued throughout the Arab world. Arab leaders were divided on how to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. These disagreements resulted in a split within the Arab world between a moderate camp that supported the process, and a hard-line camp that objected to the process.
The latter called itself the “front of steadfastness and confrontation.” Kuwait and a wide host of other Gulf states placed themselves within the moderate camp, while the “the front” consisted of revolutionary states such as Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Syria and South Yemen. The latter believed that Palestine would only be liberated through war. Forty years have gone by and this so-called “front” has slowly disappeared while its leaders evaporated from the world. Needless to say, they did not liberate a single grain of sand of Palestinian soil; they did not fire a single bullet or pick up a single weapon for the liberation of Palestine.
By abstaining from attending the Manama workshop, the Kuwaiti government today is seeking to compensate for what it lost 40 years ago when it failed to join the resistance camp. By defying the Gulf states’ consensus on the workshop, Kuwait is making a political statement. This is a ridiculous attempt to rewrite history and put Kuwait on the correct side of the political map. It would have been much wiser for Kuwait to send a delegate to Manama and shape the conference’s results through talks and negotiations. Boycotting the conference from the very outset only served to harm the reputation of Kuwait and undermine its relations with the United States. I feel very sorry for how Kuwait conducted itself in this instance. It does not line up with its usual policies of moderation and support of collaborative regional efforts.
– Saleh Al-Shayji
Saudi Intellectual: The Palestinians Forfeited An Important Opportunity By Boycotting Bahrain Economic Workshop
Saudi intellectual, writer, and journalist Turki Al-Hamad has in a series of tweets, criticized the Palestinians following their boycott of the recent ‘Prosperity to Peace’ economic workshop in Bahrain that focused on the economic dimensions of the U.S.-led Middle East peace plan known as the “Deal of the Century.”
By refusing to attend the workshop, Al-Hamad expressed that, the Palestinians had forfeited a significant opportunity to advance their cause. The slogans of the past 70 years, he added, have yielded no results, so there is need for a new approach, such as the one represented by the economic plan outlined at the conference.
The following are some of Turki Al-Hamad’s recent tweets:
The Palestinians Have Worked Themselves Into An Impasse And Are Forfeiting A Significant Opportunity
On June 26, 2019, Al-Hamad tweeted: “I think the Palestinians are forfeiting a significant opportunity by rejecting the initiative [presented at] the Manama [Bahrain] conference. This will become yet another in a long series of opportunities that have been missed over more than 70 years. Naturally, there will be talk about conspiracies and about selling out the Palestinian cause, [but] that is [precisely] what has caused us to get caught up in an endless ideological loop. It’s time to cut out [of this loop]…”
Al-Hamad’s June 26 tweet
The Palestinians Must Abandon Their Old Slogans; The Bahrain Workshop Holds Great Potential For Them
“…… it is now necessary to address the Palestinian issue in a different way and from a different perspective, far removed from the slogans of the [last] 70 years… [during which] they did not achieve even a partial result. Today there is a plan which promises an economic revival in the West Bank and the [Gaza] Strip. Some reject it, and that’s their business, but I believe it is suitable, from a practical point of view. For what is the alternative? Continuing [to spout] the same slogans for another 70 years?
“A strong economy is the basis for demanding [that] further goals [be met] for in today’s world, economy comes before politics. Ultimately, a complete rejection of this plan will mean [further] Israeli expansion in the [West] Bank and a dwindling of the Palestinian political demands, alongside the continued [spewing] of slogans, in which case the Palestinians will achieve less than nothing.
“China achieved by economic means what it failed to achieve by political and military means… during the [golden age of] ideologies, and so did Japan and Germany. South Korea made progress by means of its economy, after being at the bottom of [the roster] of nations. The G-20 summits are a message to the world that economy is now the most important parameter of the power of nations.
“The tragedy of the Arabs… is that they grant sanctity to everything – in tradition and politics – and do not distinguish between constants and variables. For example, in light of the current variables, to contend with the Palestinian issue, we need a different paradigm, if we are [in fact] interested in finding a solution. But if [the Palestinian issue] is a goose that lays golden eggs for some, [we can] forget about a solution and about those who demand it.”