Want to qualify Egyptian President Morsi’s bold moves and predict his future actions? Just examine Turkish PM Erdogan’s previous political actions and you will find the answer. The two leaders are cut from the same cloth and produce similar garments. Their personal lives have similar patterns, and their political lives are so alike that they have become intertwined.
Erdogan was born in 1954, three years after Morsi; married in 1979, one year later than Morsi; received his university degree in 1981, three years after Morsi; and entered national government in 2002, two years after Morsi. He became Prime Minister of Turkey in 2003, nine years before Morsi became Egypt’s president, a difference in experience that has given Erdogan an advantage in the relationship between the two leaders.
They have walked similar paths to power. Both leaders:
- gained power after repressive and military ruled nations;
- arrived from decades of turmoil and dissension to be perceived as conciliatory heroes;
- consider themselves as receiving mandates to govern strongly and stabilize their nations;
- pursue the same international politics – independence and concern for human rights.
- represent the political wings of Islamic dominated Parties with similar names and objectives – Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt (Morsi ended official ties) and Justice and Development in Turkey.
- govern nations of comparable sizes and populations. Turkey has a population of 70 million in an area of 783,562 km sq. Egypt has a population of 80 million in an area of 1,001,449 km sq.
Turkey’s prime minister is the most important leader of Turkic people from the steppes of China to the Mediterranean Sea. An Egyptian chief executive is the most important leader of the Arab people from the Euphrates River to the Atlantic ocean.
Opponents perceive Erdogan as becoming repressive, quick to apply Carpe Diem – seize the day. Morsi captured the same perception after his success in obtaining a truce in the Gazan war. He seized his day by a decree that places presidential decisions out of reach of judicial oversight; an action that resembles actions by Prime Minister Erdogan, whose arrests of military officials and journalists for treason solicited charges of consolidating power by anti-democratic behavior. In both cases. the leaders attempted to subdue military political influence and test judicial contravention. PM Erdogan succeeded in his endeavors, surprisingly bringing convictions on what many believed to be dubious evidence, and without provoking the judiciary to challenge the arrests and the convictions.
By pursuing favorable economic policies, which have pacified his nation, the Turkish PM has been able to contain his critics. Did the Egyptian president move too fast and endanger his position by not obtaining economic progress before making a controversial decree? Possibly so, but in his estimation he had no alternative; those he wants to bypass are those he senses are impeding progress, placing the president in a no win situation. Nevertheless, it won’t matter how Morsi’s maneuver plays out; the principal issue is the revelation of the similar manner in which the two friendly leaders are operating.
Did PM Erdogan influence President Morsi in his directive? Are they close enough to discuss complimentary and complementary strategies? Entirely possible. Their foreign policies track – friendly but cool with Iran, vehemently antagonistic to Assad’s Syria, supportive of the Palestinians, and boiling with hostility (although Morsi does not display his feelings) toward Israel. They have good reason to be together and regulate one another’s activities. The tight relationships between Reagan and Thatcher and between Roosevelt and Churchill occurred due to circumstances and common interests. The relationship between Morsi and Erdogan is deeper; it is a relationship of brotherhood, in which the success of each one depends upon the success of the other. PM Erdogan traveled quickly to Cairo to defend Egypt’s revolution in Cairo, and received plaudits from the Egyptian populace similar to those that France’s Marquis de Lafayette received from the American colonialists.
The compatibility between the two leaders is not discussed in the U.S. press, not because of any attempt to suppress information; more due to the disinterest of American people in the issue. The Egyptian press is voluble in publicizing the joint operations of their president and the Turkish prime Minister. Two samples:
Daily News Egypt
September 29, 2012
President Mohammed Morsy is traveling to Turkey on Sunday for meetings with his counterparts in Ankara. The two governments will discuss closer economic ties, developments in Syria and promoting the Palestinian cause.
Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali, who made the announcement, also said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Cairo in the near future.
Economic ties have been strengthened between Turkey and Egypt since 25 January revolution. Turkey recently promised a financial aid package of loans and cash that will total $2 billion for the Egyptian government. There has also been cooperation in the business sector. Last week a delegation from Turkey met with Egypt’s Finance Ministry and agreed on over $8 billion in investment projects.
Daily News Egypt
November 17, 2012
Earlier on Saturday Morsy and Erdoğan discussed the latest developments in Gaza; Alis said that during the meeting Erdoğan commended Morsy on Egypt’s efforts to calm the situation.
Ali also confirmed that Erdoğan and Morsy would meet in the evening to sign bilateral agreements, the framework for which was previously agreed upon during Morsy’s visit to Turkey at the end of September.
According to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry, the foreign ministers of both countries met earlier on Saturday to review the 27 agreements which covered “areas of health, transport, culture, the preservation of Islamic monuments and other areas of cooperation between the two countries.”
Their common detours from democracy occur for specific reasons.
Turkey and Egypt together have the potential to dictate the appearance of a new Asia Minor and a new Middle East. It is doubtful that a post-Assad regime in Syria will be formidable or acceptable without the influence and assistance from Turkey and Egypt. By acting in unison, the two nations will have an opportunity to play a decisive role in the formation of a new Syrian government, which might provoke changes in autocratic Jordan and promote increases in Christian and Sunni power in Lebanon. If Iraq joins the revised arrangements, then the dream of Gamal Abdel Nasser will finally be achieved – a unified Arab world – and with unity will come strength to confront adversaries and implement compatible programs.
Other reasons for departing from the democratic ideal are political and economic. Water is refreshing when its pure. Impure water is a travesty. Democracy is also welcoming when its pure and dubious when it is hypocritical. The tendency to use war to resolve problems – Vietnam, Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya, Palestine – and economic difficulties of the western democracies have shifted the political arrangements of emerging nations to favor the more economically successful and less intrusive statist nations of China, India and the southeast Asian countries. Memories of western interference in their nations and suspicions that the same nations will always want to exercise control lessen the chances that the new coalition will favor the U.S. and its allies.
Turkey and Egypt view themselves as a powerful combination that will enhance one another and bring solutions to problems in their surroundings. The path to their objectives will not satisfy western nations and those who favor democratic ideals. Pragmatism governs their direction. If President Morsi survives his controversial decree, a reinforced dynamic combination of leaders of two major nations will invigorate thought in static situations and revive energy in deprived places.