Fall of 'Islamic model' in Egypt has Erdogan fearing coup in Turkey
"The situation in Turkey is quite similar to that in Egypt — a massive and growing protest movement against an Islamist regime, with a powerful military that is standing by and watching."
Task: Prime Minister of Turkey
Assumed Office: March 14, 2003
ANKARA — Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, alarmed by the military coup in Egypt, was said to fear a similar scenario in Turkey.
Diplomatic sources said Erdogan was the only NATO or Middle East leader to have openly sided with the Muslim Brotherhood against Egypt's military. They said the prime minister sent a series of harsh messages to Egypt's military to restore ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
"For the last year, Erdogan bragged that Egypt was following his Islamic model only to see how the military destroyed everything," a diplomat said. "He fears that the Turkish military will do the same in the name of stabilizing the country."
Since the July 3 coup against Morsi, Erdogan has been waging a war of words with the European Union for failing to condemn the ouster of Egypt's first Islamist president. On July 10, Erdogan explained his concern over a military coup and the repercussions for Turkey.
"We have suffered a lot from military coups," Erdogan said in an address to civil servants in Ankara. "We don't want our Egyptian brothers to suffer from [them] as well."
But Western and other diplomats said Erdogan has been concerned that the military coup in Egypt could encourage critics at home. They cited nationwide protests in which the military has refused to help the police and security forces. The prime minister and his aides have blamed everybody from hotels, a leading defense contractor to American Jews for the unrest.
"The situation in Turkey is quite similar to that in Egypt — a massive and growing protest movement against an Islamist regime, with a powerful military that is standing by and watching," another diplomat said.
Egypt's new military-led regime has warned Erdogan to stop criticizing the coup. On July 9, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry summoned Turkey's ambassador and warned Ankara against statements that support the Brotherhood.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan has been critical of the military coup that removed Mohammed Morsi from power in Egypt.
For his part, Erdogan said he would continue to criticize Egypt's military. The prime minister predicted that the Brotherhood would rise again and avenge the ouster of Morsi.
"Those who staged the coup will be tried sooner or later," Erdogan said. "And in the end, they will find the people in front of them."
A leading Turkish Islamist, Fethullah Gulen, has acknowledged that the coup in Egypt could motivate the military in other countries. Gulen, not regarded as an ally of Erdogan, cited the repeated military coups in Turkey.
"The utmost caution is needed," Gulen said.
Meanwhile, the Kurdish Workers Party, amid its withdrawal from Turkey, has elected a new leadership.
The PKK elected two senior commanders during a conference in northern Iraq. The conference decided to replace PKK commander Murat Karayilan with a dual leadership of Cemil Bayik and Bese Howat.
"The PKK decided that it needed a multiple leadership rather than an overall commander," a PKK source said.
The conference, held from June 30 to July 5, also re-elected Abdullah Ocalan as commander-in-chief. Ocalan has been in a Turkish prison for nearly 15 years although allowed to contact the PKK.
The new leadership was named amid the PKK withdrawal from Turkey. Ms. Howat was the first woman commander of the PKK, which contained a large female membership.
The sources said the conference, which took place at PKK headquarters in the Kandil mountains, decided to increase female membership and representation. They said the PKK would allocate 40 percent of its membership to women.
Karayilan, expected to retire, became acting PKK leader in 1999 after Turkey captured Ocalan. Bayik and Ms. Howat have been identified as founding members of the Kurdish insurgency movement.
Turkish media reports said Karayilan would continue to oversee Kurdish insurgency operations. The Turkish daily Hurriyet said Karayilan would command a PKK unit called the People's Defense Forces.
[On late July 12, at least 14 people were killed in a suicide bombing in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, disputed by Arabs, Kurds and ethnic Turks. No group claimed responsibility.]