Morsi, the AKP and Washington

The announcement that former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has been sentenced to death has triggered a major political reaction from government circles in Turkey. Part of the resentment is with the West and particularly Washingtonand’s reluctance to strongly condemn the Egyptian courtand’s decision. Obviously, Ankara wants the Obama administration to be more sensitive to violations of human rights and democracy instead of following a foreign policy that is only concerned with American geostrategic interests.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu are wondering why America is silent about Egypt. The answer is clear: Washington is silent for the same reasons it is silent on violations of human rights and democracy in Turkey. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) should be careful what it wishes for. As the saying goes, people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
If the United States had no geostrategic interests in Turkey and could simply pursue its ideals and listen to its conscience, it would recognize the Armenian Genocide. This is why Turkey should think twice before condemning American reluctance to criticize the violations of democracy in Egypt.
In an ideal world the US would face no tension between its ideals and national interests. But in the real world such tensions constantly exist and force American administrations into difficult compromises. The situation in Egypt is one of them. There is no denying that under the new strong man, Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt is becoming even more autocratic than under former dictator Hosni Mubarak. By declaring the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) a terrorist organization, the Sisi regime may end up achieving a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The military coup in Egypt and the brutal suppression of the MB has proved that political Islam will never be allowed to govern, even when it comes to power through democratic elections. This situation will only radicalize political Islam and cause a convergence of moderate and radical Islamists. As was the case under the Mubarak regime, the MB will develop a narrative of victimhood and capture the frustration of millions of pious sympathizers.
It is hard to deny that Morsi and the MB made serious mistakes during their short rule. They were autocratic and illiberal. However, they were democratically elected. What the new military regime does not understand is that by pushing the MB underground and sentencing Morsi to death they are helping to radicalize and strengthening the movement. In the long run, the dynamics of convergence between moderate and radical political Islam will assist the growth of jihadist terrorism. The evolution of political Islam into jihadist terrorism is precisely what is happening in Egypt under the new military regime.
Surely, such a development is not in Americaand’s national interests. The radical Islamists will end up blaming the faraway enemy of the West, as much as the enemy nearby, the regime. Washington should no doubt make a stronger effort to appreciate these dynamics. In 2013, Egypt needed early elections, not a military coup. Instead of staging a coup, the Egyptian army should have waited for the next elections. Forcing the Muslim Brotherhood government to call early elections would have been a much better alternative because the people — not the military — would have ousted the Muslim Brotherhood in a democratic way.
Perhaps the real question we should be asking is whether the US has the power to influence the Egyptian domestic situation in the right direction. It makes sense to go back to the beginning and point out that Washington has been unable to influence the situation that led to a more repressive regime in Turkey. It should be clear that American leverage with both Turkey and Egypt is limited. Instead of constantly blaming Washington, the AKP should perhaps be grateful that this is the case.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman