In a January 13, 2020 column titled “The Collapse Of Political Islam” in the leading Turkish opposition daily Sözcü known for its secular stance, columnist Zeynep Gürcanlı reflected on recent events in Iran, saying: “It is clear that the mode of government of political Islam, based not on merit but on loyalty to the regime, has rotted that country from the inside.” She then said that Sunni political Islam was doing no better and that even in Turkey, where she says Sunni political Islam is the strongest, its failure is apparent. As evidence of this failure, she presented, in the context of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s January 7 visit to Turkey, the AKP’s Libya and Syria policies, the closure of Atatürk Airport, concessions to Russia in the newly opened TürkAkım pipeline, which carries natural gas from Russia to Europe via Turkey, and the Kanal İstanbul, a controversial AKP plan to dig a second canal, parallel to the Bosporus, from the Marmara Sea to the Black Sea.
Zeynep Gürcanlı (source: Twitter.com).
Gürcanlı asked readers: “When Shi’ite/Sunni political Islam is collapsing all over the world, does it not make your hair stand on end [to think of] the mullah regime in Iran, which shot down a passenger plane thinking it was a missile, having nuclear weapons? Does the AKP’s insistence, against all the scientific data going in the other direction, that ‘I will certainly open the Kanal Istanbul’ not make you lose sleep?” On December 27, 2019, Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu Ajansı reported that Istanbul’s 37th criminal court had sentenced six journalists and one other staff member from Sözcü to prison.
Following is a translation of Gürcanlı’s column, with subtitles emphasized as in the original:
“The U.S. did a pinpoint strike with missiles; General Qassem Soleimani, coordinator of Iran’s proxy war in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, died. The Iranian government organized a funeral for Soleimani that lasted days, and in the ceremonies 56 Iranian citizens died tragically.
“As ‘revenge,’ Iran organized a missile attack on two separate bases in Iraq to which American soldiers were deployed. The noses of, not only the Americans, but the Norwegian, Canadian, and Iraqi soldiers at the base were not even bloodied. What happened on an aircraft of a Ukrainian civilian airline, on which 90 percent of the passengers were Iranian, happened. The soldiers of Iran’s mullah administration thought the civilian aircraft was a missile and shot it down. 176 people died.
“Since the 1980s, Iran has been the stronghold of Shi’ite political Islam in the Middle East. It is clear that the mode of government of political Islam, based not on merit but on loyalty to the regime, has rotted that country from the inside and brought it to this condition. The main target of the protests these days in the streets of Tehran is, for the first time so openly, the icon of the regime of Shi’ite poltiical Islam and its spiritual leader, [Ali] Khamenei.
“Sunni Political Islam Is No Different
“The situation these days of Sunni political Islam, which, with the Arab Spring, wrapped itself up in its strongest condition, is no different. The Muslim Brotherhood was driven out of the Egyptian government in a military coup; it threw in the towel in Tunisia and Palestine; it is fighting for its life in Algeria; in Libya it is squeezed into Tripoli.
“The place where Sunni political Islam is still its ‘strongest’ is Turkey. But of course the word ‘strongest’ is certainly in quotes. Because just last week, with a visit from Putin, the condition of the political Islam movement in Turkey became clear. Putin’s visit was full of symbols. First, one day before coming to Turkey, Putin visited the Syria of [Syrian President Bashar Al-]Assad, who is the AKP government’s ‘most ferocious enemy.’
“Mocking the dream of ‘prayer at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus in three days,’ which the AKP turned into a slogan while taking sides in the civil war in Syria, Bashar Al-Assad brought Putin to the Umayyad Mosque for a visit.
“Who Does Not Know International Law?
“The subject that caused the AKP government and President Erdoğan the most difficulty during Putin’s visit was Libya. Three days before Putin’s visit, Erdoğan rejected, above all, in mocking terms, the suggestion of [opposition party] CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who went on television on Sunday evening and said ‘Do not send soldiers to Libya, send diplomats and do mediation.’ Erdoğan accused Kılıçdaroğlu of ‘not knowing international law.’ On Wednesday, Putin came to Istanbul and spoke with Erdoğan. The two leaders made a joint announcement that they would ‘do mediation in Libya.’ In the notice it was said that: ‘As mediators, Turkey and Russia are calling for a ceasefire in Libya.’
“The question of who ‘does not know international law’ is still on people’s minds.
“The TürkAkım Concessions, Atatürk Airport, And The Cyprus Pipeline
“In the course of Putin’s visit, the vulnerabilities of the AKP government in areas that we did not expect at all became clear in a surprising way. At the time when Putin was arriving in Istanbul, planes could not land, due to adverse weather conditions, in the Istanbul Airport, which is being introduced as the ‘project of the century.’ Putin landed in Atatürk Airport, which, in a nonsensical decision, the AKP government has closed and is dismantling to give to scrap-iron dealers.
“Erdoğan and Putin did the opening of the TürkAkım pipeline, which carries gas from Russia to Europe through Turkey. It was brought up once again that in the construction of the pipeline, the AKP government had, in another concession to Putin, provided ‘VAT Exemption.’
“With TürkAkım, Turkey’s natural gas addiciton to Russia has increased. Above all Putin’s Russia neither gave Turkey the right to re-export the gas that goes across its territory, nor did it give a discount on the price of the gas. Turkey will continue to buy Russian gas at a higher price than [the price at which it is bought] by all the countries of Europe.
“In the days during which Putin’s visit occurred, it is certainly a coincidence, another ‘project of the century’ of the AKP collapsed. A pipe carrying water under the Mediterranean from Turkey to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus burst, and the pipes reached the surface of the sea. It was such that it became a hazard for sea traffic.
“Now put these on top of one another and think: When Shi’ite/Sunni political Islam is collapsing all over the world, does it not make your hair stand on end [to think of] the mullah regime in Iran, which shot down a passenger plane thinking it was a missile, having nuclear weapons?
“Does the AKP’s insistence, against all the scientific data going in the other direction, that ‘I will certainly open the Kanal Istanbul’ not make you lose sleep?”