A trip Erdoğan began to the Arab Spring nations earlier this week has proved this once again as the people of the Middle East expressed their admiration of the prime minister very openly. Undoubtedly, Erdoğan’s courageous statements in the international arena about Israeli policies and the Palestinian issue have given rise to his popularity, but it seems there is more to the admiration for Erdoğan in the Arab street.
Bugün’s Gülay Göktürk attempts to understand the reasons behind the adoration for Erdoğan in the Middle East and thinks that Erdoğan appeals to the youth in the Middle East with a model that was presented to them neither by legendary Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein, nor the founder of the Tunisian Republic, Habib Bourguiba, or Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. Erdoğan tells them: “You can develop, have independence, welfare and freedom without leaving behind your values, denying your identity, your religion and being ashamed of your culture. Look, we have managed to do this and the secret behind this is democracy.” Göktürk says this is the main reason why the youth in Tahrir Square admire Erdoğan. The Turkish prime minister shows them how security and freedoms, honor and happiness can all exist at the same time.
Star’s Mehmet Altan, who thinks Erdoğan’s tour of Arab Spring countries, which began Monday night, has once again proved the admiration for the Turkish prime minister in the Arab world, and says that the public adoration for Erdoğan is nourished by the Middle Eastern administrations’ dislike of the Turkish prime minister. Altan asserts that although the people in the Middle East admire and appreciate Erdoğan, it is not possible to say the same for the administrations in the Middle East. Altan explains that the reason behind the Middle Eastern administrations’ dislike of Erdoğan is mainly because Erdoğan has a more radical and outspoken discourse regarding the Palestinian issue and against Israel than all the other leaders in the Middle East. “Erdoğan’s popularity in the region is constantly being fostered by the difference between the Middle Eastern administrations and the people. That’s why Erdoğan is referred to as the leader of the Arab street,” says Altan.
According to Sabah’s Mehmet Barlas, Erdoğan’s tour of Arab Spring nations and the displays of admiration for Erdoğan by the people of the Middle East are concrete signs of the beginning of a new era for the Middle East.