Turkey’s multi-faceted foreign policy dispute with the US could be set to deepen even further following a White House announcement that President Donald Trump is working to declare the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO).
The designation would “undoubtedly yield extremely wrong results regarding stability, human rights, basic rights and freedoms in [Middle East] countries,” Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AKP ruling party, said in response to the development on April 30.
“At the same time, [Trump’s move] is the biggest support that can be given to the propaganda of Daesh,” he added, referring to Islamic State.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement, has retained backing from Erdogan since the Egyptian presidential administration it formed in 2012 following the Arab Spring was overthrown by the military. Brotherhood figures have found refuge in Turkey, but the governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Syria and the UAE consider the organisation a terrorist entity. Among the Gulf monarchies, only Turkey’s ally Qatar, backs the Muslim Brotherhood. Ankara’s relations with the Saudis and UAE are brittle given their role in attempting to blockade Qatar over political differences, and Turkey’s aggressive approach to solving the murder of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.
Request from Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asked Trump to make the FTO designation in a private meeting during an April 9 visit to Washington, a senior US official said, confirming a report in the New York Times.
Despite being Nato allies, Turkey and the US are currently at loggerheads over opposing interests in Syria and Ankara’s plans to buy Russian missile defences. They are also on opposite sides when it comes to Trump’s sanctions assault on Iran, the US approach to solving the Palestinian question and the US-endorsed bid to topple the Maduro administration in Venezuela.
The Muslim Brotherhood has close ties with Turkey’s AKP. It says it is an entirely peaceful organisation.
The organisation stated on April 29 that it would continue to work in line with “our moderate and peaceful thinking” regardless of any moves by the Trump administration.
Erdogan also presently has following strong criticism by Ankara of Beijing’s treatment of the Turkic and Muslim Uyghur minority while in Sudan, President Omar al-Bashir, whom the Turkish president saw as an ally, was last week ousted in a coup d’etat.
Turkey also risks having bet on the wrong side in the ongoing military struggle for control of Libya and Erdogan has thrown angry rhetoric the way of France lately after Paris decided to recognise the 1915 Turkish massacre of Armenians as genocide.