Erdoğan lacks focus on regional developments

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s dismissal of President Abdullah Gül’s congratulatory message to Egypt’s new President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – even if he did not mention Gül by name - as “meaningless” may be a criticism of Gül. It could also mean that Gül and Erdoğan are playing the good policeman-bad policeman game here.

The question will remain vague, since Gül is unlikely to respond to Erdoğan. He has chosen not to endanger Erdoğan’s political future and is preparing for all intents and purposes to withdraw from the scene, especially after he announced that he has no political plans for the future.

The chances, therefore, are that Erdoğan will announce his candidacy and become president in August. Erdoğan’s remark about el-Sisi has meaning in this context, telling us more about himself than Egypt’s new strongman.

To start with, it signals that he plans no change in tack as far as Egypt is concerned even if he is elected president. Erdoğan is clearly winking at his Islamist supporters who feel an affinity to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere.

That, however, has significance beyond Egypt. The coup in Egypt that toppled Erdoğan’s elected friend, President Mohamed Morsi, had support from Saudi Arabia and other regional Sunni powers who see the Brotherhood as a threat.

El-Sisi is also supported by Iran. This means that by taking on el-Sisi, Erdoğan is also taking on the key Islamic administrations in the region, a fact that is unlikely to endear him to regimes that already look at Turkey with suspicion today.

Erdoğan is also at odds with Washington on el-Sisi. President Barack Obama, like Gül, also...

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