The role of Malaysia and Turkey, which openly backed Pakistan at the UN General Assembly (UNGA), during a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) last month in Paris has brought to fore the inconsistency and nonchalance of these two nations towards anything remotely ethical as well as societal. Hence what is that the two countries have at stake that defines their incredulous behaviour and defies civility besides incurring international ridicule?
Turkey: New Found Romance With Its Past Glory
In the run-up to Turkey’s April 2017 election, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) brought up strings of big-budget commercials that fantasized about Turkey’s fame in the Muslim world. Amongst others, they featured idealized scenes of Muslims around the world eulogizing Turkey for its contributions both ancient and modern Islam. This included Kazakh children staring in wonder as a village elder tells them of the vast conquests of the Turks, Bosnians celebrating a win of Turkish national soccer team and Palestinian children being taught about Saladin’s victories in the madrassa. The scene of Pakistan is hilariously depicted while a Turkish couple are sitting in a cafe, they ask for the check, and when it comes, the receipt simply says, “Erdogan has paid the bill.” That signifies the subscription base Turkey has in form of a semi rogue state like Pakistan, which routinely behaves in the international community as freebooters.
Turkey has long been considered an economic and political model for Pakistan, albeit in ways that have changed over time. General Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani Army Chief and later president, admired Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish republic, for his heavy-handed rule. Musharraf, who spent part of his childhood in Turkey, made clear his hopes that Pakistan would follow a Turkish path.
However, it is pertinent to underline here that Musharraf’s admiration for Atatürk coincides with a time when the era of military tutelage in Turkey was being challenged by the relatively democratic first decade of Erdogan’s rule which however has been anything but democratic and state like. Ingoing with leanings of rogue state like Pakistan, Turkey is unabashedly in delusion of being the “epicentre to reclaim Islamic grandeur” dreams, which were also fostered by Pakistan not so a decade ago.
Erdogan is not the first Islamist to hold the reins in Turkey. That position belongs to his mentor, Necmettin Erbakan, a radical pan-Islamic ideologue (who only managed to remain Prime Minister for a year before being forced to resign by the Military in 1997) who was obsessed with creating an Islamic order across the spectrum of international relations, proclaiming in a campaign speech that Turkey “will set up an Islamic United Nations, an Islamic NATO and an Islamic version of the European Union.” The pillar of this reorientation would be developing friendly relations with all the radical sponsors of terrorism throughout the world. These familiar sentiments are echoed by the current Erdogan’s rule in deeds. While opposition is virtually decimated, inclusive political discourse is past and as on date free press has been purged. Criminal investigations have been opened against a staggering 150,000 people accused of links to the bogey of “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation”, which the government claims masterminded the attempted coup. More than 50,000 remain in prison on remand. Thousands more have been detained, accused of links to the armed Kurdish PKK or other banned organisations. More than 100,000 public sector workers, including a quarter of the judiciary and hundreds of academicians, have been arbitrarily dismissed under state of emergency powers. All that remains is state sponsered propoganda machinery at its finest.
Erdogan orchestrated his Ministry of Finance in 2011 to support Hamas to the tune of $300 million. Israeli security services continue to report on the extensive relationship between Turkey and Hamas, which runs a military office in Istanbul staffed by terrorists released by Israel in a prisoner swap. More pronounced than AKP’s relationship with Hamas is its full-throated support of Hezbollah, from resupplying it to parroting Hezbollah propaganda on assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and that Hezbollah are only “the spirit of resistance”.
Turkey as has been muddling Syria’s backyard in collusion with ISIS and other terrorist groups is no surprise now. While there have been sufficient proofs on allegations of purchasing ISIS oil by Turkey, according to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman “It is Turkey’s President Erdogan who wants to impose the caliphate system”. he also indicated that they are using the Muslim Brotherhood to export the terrorism Muslim nations are fighting.”
A Curious Case of Malaysian Politics
Malaysia appears to be facing an identity crisis for several years now. It has a heterogeneous society with multiple ethnic identities in behaviour, mental state, ideology, and belief. Each ethnic group has its own schema with its own language and cultural expressions that more often than not, ghettoise rather than integrate. However, because of a polarising attitude towards national identity, each ethnic group had to assert its identity.
Compounding above is the rise of Islamist in Malaysia. For decades, Kuala Lumpur has been a known confederate of Hezbollah, Hamas, ISI, ISIS and also North Korea. And it’s evident that 92-year-old and notoriously “anti-Semitic” Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, who has his own well-documented history of cronyism and corruption, lacks the will to sever the government’s ties to rogue states and extremists. Malaysian banks have also knowingly allowed North Korean officials to open accounts for their front companies. Hamas is yet another sanctioned entity benefitting from Malaysia’s friendship. Malaysia’s largest Islamist party has had ties to Hamas since at least 2002. And most recently, the Mossad assassinated Fadi al-Batsh, a high-level Hamas operative, in Malaysia. Al-Batsh, a professor and lecturer at the British Malaysian Institute, conducted research on weapons systems and drones on behalf of Hamas.
Its an open fact that Pakistan intelligence agency ISI and its owned terrorists organizations enjoys financial routes through links in Kuala-Lumpur. Mahathir Mohammad last year met with Indian Muslim hate preacher Zakir Naik after rejecting New Delhi’s request to extradite the well-known televangelist, who is wanted for money laundering and terrorism. Naik has justified Osama bin Laden’s atrocities, and helped to incite a July 2016 terror attack in Bangladesh that killed 29 people. ISIS has been given to be having presence.
While its own house has been long in disorder, leaning towards societal factionalisms and battling Islamist rise, Malaysia continue to tread the dangerous discourse of standing on the other side to be complicit to terror.
Pakistan, Turkey, and Malaysia have recently decided to launch a BBC like channel supposedly to “combat “Islamophobia” in the West”. This is as unnatural and downright ridiculous as is the idea of Turkey-Pak-Malaysia Axis. Other than both countries investing in Pakistan, because no one else does, at exorbitant deals to benefit anyone but Pakistan, because still no one else is willing to do so, and to inflate own radicalised image at home, because there is no other candidate better than Pakistan in so, there is very little logic that binds these countries together, while encompassing the most bizarre economic schemata.
While Malaysia may ask for leverage in South China Sea using Pak-China bonhomie, it is unlikely for Chinese also to go on doling out giveaways at behest of a shady state like Pakistan. Muslim bloc has long kept their distance with these three countries on account of frivolous self-defeating politics. While dubious image building for consumption of internal populace can be the reason for Erdogen’s Turkey to consolidate, post 2016 failed Coup, it is not going to be of any benefit to all three, except in their own countries.
It is worth noting that all the three countries have a long history of misrule using the very familiar “Islam in danger” card. It will only ensure that they are in power despite failed policies and governance. In all three countries, terrorist organizations have a freeway available to operate, political and civil dissent is purged, there are draconian curbs on free press & human rights and corruption is rampant. And hence their axis is all about “quid pro quo” support to each other’s terrorist outlook on all above, with disregard to internantional norms, civility and humane societal values
Association with Pakistan can only fuel rise of the Islamic elements in Malaysia while of course secure vote bank. Malaysia has much to lose in terms of ever so dwindling credibility, both with minorities at home (which are a large chunk of 50% and civil strife is ever so a possibility due to state sponsored murky politics) as well as internationally. Turkey is on an incongruent path which definitely does not take it any closer to the European Union. The much talked about Turkey-Iran-China-Russia axis is a nonstarter mostly due to Geo-Strategic interests clash as well as on the aspect of “Who pays and who shares”.
While assimilating above, politics at national level in both the countries give feeble chance of change. This axis is merely based on mutual-support, more so as the same is not forthcoming from anywhere else, and definitely not based on any Geostrategic-Economic-cultural considerations. Are they bitten by the “Non-Arab Islam” supremacy & expansionist bug? Pakistan is trying to wrest Jammu and Kashmir from India and exploit Balochis, Pashtuns, Sindhis and anyone not related to Military ; Turkey is fishing in the troubled Syrian waters, particularly in its Kurd-dominated oil-rich areas; and Malaysia has had simmering internal multi ethno-cultural disputes and territorial sea limits. It is yet to be seen how far this collusion means anything in respective regions. However, they are likely to continue to be a trifling irritant to world peace as well as use nefarious expertise to sabotage their own civic society, hopefully not beyond recall.
05 Nov 19/Tuesday Written by: Fayaz