Morsi and the AK Party experience

Morsi and the AK Party experience

Spring is in the air in all walks of life, from politics to the economy, for this region’s two powers, Turkey and Egypt.
The level of relations will be attested by the presence of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi as an honorary guest at the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Ordinary Congress, due to be held on Sunday.

Following his visits to Saudi Arabia and Iran in efforts to establish a contact group, along with Egypt and Turkey, Morsi’s visit to Turkey has long been speculated.

The AK Party played a role in the success of Morsi and his Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Egypt’s elections. AK Party delegates frequently visited Egypt in pre-election times, offering advice to the Muslim Brotherhood, which established the FJP, on election strategy. Despite objections from other national groups and parties, the Turkish government stuck unwaveringly to this policy.

It is surely important that Turkey and Egypt have close relations as a vast earthquake shakes the Middle East. Both countries try to put Iran in this ring.

In non-conformity with these two countries, Iran follows distinct policies in many — in fact, nearly all — areas. The diversion tactics and deceitful policies proficiently exercised by Iran are surely well known to leaders of both Turkey and Egypt. Therefore, it is an open question what influence Turkey and Egypt will have on Iran as the nations participate, along with Iraq, in the “Syria Quartet,” established to canvass possible solutions to the Syria issue.

Returning to Turkish-Egyptian relations, Egypt lags far behind Turkey in terms of its economic stability, and has no rooted political past. But it can catch up to Turkey quickly by implementing some wise policies.

Egypt has the edge over Turkey in that it is not energy-dependent. Furthermore, hundreds of billions of dollars in Gulf capital could flow into Egypt at any time. Plus, the world’s fastest-growing and most promising region, Africa, is essentially in Egypt’s backyard.

Politically speaking, the emergence of liberal and leftist parties to provide opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood is vital to the health of Egypt’s democracy. The nation’s leading policy figures — people such as Amr Moussa, Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr el-Shobaki — strive mightily to unite against the Muslim Brotherhood current. It is unknown whether such a bloc or current will succeed or not.

Under Morsi, Egypt has come rapidly to the fore of international politics. Despite US and Israeli neocon influences, Morsi garners wide support with both his foreign and domestic policies.

Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are the subject of criticism such as that recently leveled against the AK Party. Since coming to power for the third time, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government, which has played the biggest role in Turkey’s transformation and economic rise, have made successive mistakes. A common criticism is the AK Party’s method of staffing public bodies, with appointees to key posts coming more and more often from the party ranks, as well as Erdoğan’s harsh responses to those who criticize him, his downplaying of negative commentary in the media and his rebukes of the army for perpetrating coups for years. A clear foreign policy stalemate is also noticeable.

The Muslim Brotherhood should derive lessons from the harsh criticism leveled at the AK Party of late, lest Morsi undergo a similar ordeal. Morsi’s assignment to key roles members of the Muslim Brotherhood is disconcerting to some segments of Egyptian society.

There is close resemblance between the AK Party and the Muslim Brotherhood’s FJP. Both now find themselves without viable opposition. Their current adversaries are weak and cannot serve as alternatives. Today, a sizable portion of the AK Party constituency is liable to stop voting for it if a viable leader or alternative emerges, and this statement could just as well be applied to Egypt. If an alternative name inspiring trust in the masses emerges (and such a person could also come from within the Muslim Brotherhood itself) the FJP will no doubt stand less of a chance at the ballot box.

Egypt might have a similar experience to that of Turkey’s Necmettin Erbakan. When former Prime Minister Erbakan’s approval rating plummeted to 4 percent, members of his party, who were also his close allies, garnered wide public approval and rose to power themselves.

The Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi should closely analyze the recent experiences of the AK Party.



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