After he made Turkey a headquarters for the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened media platforms for them, granted some of them Turkish citizenship, used them against their people and countries, and even pushed them to commit crimes here and there in the name of religion.
There are indications, though, that Erdogan is abandoning the Muslim Brotherhood to save his regime, especially after news of the recent arrest of 23 Brotherhood leaders and members residing in Turkey on charges of communicating with other countries to secure safe havens for a number of Brotherhood leaders without the knowledge of the Turkish authorities.
Has Erdogan really started to abandon the Muslim Brotherhood?
In an attempt to answer this question, we must consider the following:
1. The intense Turkish talk about Turkish-Egyptian meetings, and the readiness to establish better relations with Egypt after years of Erdogan’s hostility to the rule of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his assertion that he would not recognize the Egyptian leader’s rule.
Erdogan described Sisi as mutinous and violent after the overthrow of the late President Muhammad Morsi, who was a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Erdogan’s comments prompted Cairo to leak the Turkish offer of reconciliation to the public, an offer which included the Turkish abandonment of support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the closure of their TV channels broadcasting from Turkey, and the handing over of a number of wanted leaders to the Egyptian authorities, in exchange for reconciliation.
Regardless of the failure of the security talks that took place between the two sides, the Turkish offer reveals the extent of Erdogan’s willingness to sell the Brotherhood in exchange for his interests.
2. Turkish courting of Saudi Arabia, and talk about Turkey’s willingness to overlook the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in his country’s consulate in Istanbul.
If we know that Saudi Arabia classifies the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, then such a matter reveals the extent of Erdogan’s willingness to sacrifice the Brotherhood on the altar of the interests of his country and his regime, after regional and international developments and alignments, and in anticipation for Joe Biden to assume his duties at the helm of the White House.
3. Turkish sources leaked that the Turkish authorities instructed Muslim Brotherhood leaders residing in Turkey to limit their media visibility from Turkey, and not to attack the countries and regimes of the region.
These leaks emerged amid reports of arguments between the Erdogan regime and the Muslim Brotherhood because of the measures that the Turkish authorities began to impose on them, and not granting some of them Turkish citizenship after he promised to do so.
4. The emergence of strong calls in a number of European countries and the US, specifically in Congress, to classify the Muslim Brotherhood groups as terrorist organizations, in addition to the fact that influential Arab countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan have classified these groups as such.
With the advent of a new American administration under the leadership of Democrat Joe Biden, Turkey appears very concerned about continuing to adopt the approach of political Islam.
This is especially true since this approach has been accompanied by the spawning of many terrorist organizations that have committed crimes and violations, starting from the Kurdish regions in Syria, through Libya, and reaching a number of European countries, especially France, which repeatedly held Erdogan’s regime responsible for this.
In fact, perhaps what drives Erdogan to sell the Muslim Brotherhood out is his conviction that his alliance with them failed to achieve his regional project, especially after the Egyptian people succeeded in getting rid of Morsi’s rule, and also because of his conviction that these groups that lost their homelands have exhausted their functional role and become a burden on his regime, his interests, and his relations with other countries.
Accordingly, Erdogan will not be embarrassed to sell them when he finds himself in front of a deal that he believes will achieve his interests. The man who abandoned his former political allies will find nothing difficult or embarrassing about this, despite all the slogans he raised about the concept of Islamic brotherhood, defending the oppressed, and other slogans through which Erdogan wanted to play on emotions and feelings to achieve the illusion of Islamic leadership.
Facing this reality, there are many questions to be asked to the Muslim Brotherhood groups and other groups that have linked their fate to the Erdogan regime:
- Do they realize that Erdogan used them for his own project and not for the moral slogans he raised?
- Will they realize that Erdogan’s talk about Islam is for the sake of a Turkish national project based on hegemony and nothing more?
- Will they realize that their bet on Erdogan lacks any mental logic, real political understanding, or long-term strategy?
- Will they realize that Erdogan, who raises moral and religious slogans, is the most pragmatic leader to the point of opportunism for his interests?
In fact, Erdogan exploited the political Islam movement well, as the Muslim Brotherhood groups were used against their countries and peoples for the interest of the Turkish project to the extent that they, in agreement with Turkish security services, smuggled billions of dollars and tons of gold from their country’s banks to Turkey, as is the case for Libya. He also used them to spread chaos and terror in Egypt, and made them into tools for killing and committing the most horrific violations in the Kurdish regions of Syria, especially Afrin.
With the failure of the Turkish regional project, which was based on the ascension of Muslim Brotherhood groups to power in their countries, they have outlived their usefulness and become a burden on the Erdogan regime.
All these data and indications suggest that the issue of selling them for the sake of reconciliation with countries Erdogan used these groups against is only a matter of time.
Despite all of this, these groups are still betting on Erdogan and fighting in his wars here and there as mercenaries, without realizing that Erdogan was never an ally of anyone, and that he used them for the sake of his Turkish national project.