Egypt and Erdoğan’s message to the Arab Spring countries,
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: The welcome Erdoğan received in Cairo was like that of a leader returning home after a long and successful military campaign. The different Egyptian factions, usually competing and incoherent, were united in their excitement at Erdoğan’s
Everyone in the Arab region has now learnt to follow the patterns of political conflict and security developments that have exploded in the wake of the recent Arab revolutions. However, the visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the Arab Spring countries of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya attracted the attention of many, stealing the spotlight and overnight becoming a topic of daily conversation among citizens, journalists and intellectuals alike.
The welcome Erdoğan received in Cairo was like that of a leader returning home after a long and successful military campaign. Ordinary people gathered alongside officials, thronging to welcome Erdoğan when he arrived at Cairo International Airport. The different Egyptian powers and factions, usually competing and incoherent, were united in excitement at the visit by the Turkish prime minister, who appears to have won over Egyptian -- and Arab -- hearts.
The importance of the Turkish prime minister’s visit to Cairo, after an absence of nearly a decade and a half, has emerged on three levels:
The visit came against a background of increasing political polarization between two trends: some focus on the mechanisms for controlling political Islamic movements to ensure a secular and civilian regime via a political role played by the Egyptian army, and guaranteed by constitutional and institutional arrangements. Others focus on the signs of success in what, according to their particular vision, embodies Turkish political Islam, and how the development of the AK Party’s vision reflects that, in its ability to reach reconciliatory stances, both domestically and abroad.
Still others believe the situation of Arab Spring countries has become relatively better than that of Turkey, thanks to the lack of a system of extreme secularism and the decline of restrictions placed on political Islam. This latter trend also believes the Turkish experience can inspire the Arab world, but that it cannot be reproduced fully there due to the substantial differences in social and political con-