France, terrorist attacks and Turkey: questions and answers

29 October, 2020 · News> Global situation

Macron today in Nize after the last attack.

This morning, two new terrorist attacks, one in Nice and another in the French consulate in Jeddah, have provided an ominous echo to Erdogan’s call for the boycott of French products.

Is there a confrontation between the Muslim countries and France?

Demonstration organized by Hamas in front of the residence of the French ambassador in Israel.

It is true that in the press and news broadcasts there has been incorrect talk of a boycott by the Arab countries, or even of the confrontation between the Muslim community and Macron and by extension France for his claim during the homage to Samuel Paty of the famous drawings of Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo.

In fact, the boycott has only been encouraged from the state in Turkey and Qatar. In the rest of the world it is a campaign of the Muslim Brotherhood developed by its local branches, like Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank or Ennahda in Tunisia. Local branches that in most Arab countries – starting with Egypt, the cradle of the organization – are either underground or – as in Jordan – tolerated but regularly repressed and kept away from political power.

Does the boycott have any economic significance?

The French employers’ association called for resistance in the name of republican principles because the truth is that principles are very cheap. The impact on French exports is and will be minimal.

In fact, the boycott that is currently really transforming trade flows in Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East is the Saudi boycott of Turkish products.

Where does all this come from?

Erdogan supporters celebrate the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque in Istanbul.

The 2008 financial crisis made it clear that the outlets that Turkish capital had enjoyed and developed since the 1990s would no longer be available. The integration into the EU was practically dead since 2000. And in the Turkic states of Central Asia Turkey clashed more and more with China and with a reconstituted Russia as a regional power.

It is during this period that Erdogan progressively affirmed what has been called a neo-Ottoman program. Basically an imperialist development plan that seeks regional outlets for Turkish capital in the countries that had been formerly controlled by or attached to the Sultanate before the First World War. The new narrative included claims like the Blue Turkey, revalued by the discovery of new hydrocarbon deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In this new imperialist stance, Turkey bet on reorienting Islamism at a time when jihadism was losing ground, and putting it at the service of its interests in partnership with Qatar. Both countries became the patrons of the Muslim Brotherhood. The result of the new alliance was the renewal of the organization during the so-called Arab Spring. A massive and simultaneous attack in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria which placed Turkey back in a position of global power… but which also confronted it more and more with Russia, Germany, USA, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Israel and of course the governments of Syria and Egypt… which in the end imposed themselves on Qatar and Ankara’s proxies. The arc of conflict open today from Azerbaijan to Libya via Syria and the territorial disputes with Greece and Egypt originated there.

What is the Muslim Brotherhood?

Hamas militias, Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, parade in Gaza.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organization of Islamism. Unlike other anti-colonial movements, they were not born as a tool of the local bourgeoisies to create a national state and set in motion capitalist development. It is a movement of feudal resistance – hence its religious foundation – confronting not only the colonizer but also the transformation of social relations that their rule brings with it.

Like other reactionary movements – Spanish Carlism, Portuguese Joanism, French traditionalism, etc. – its evolution and above all the relentless extension of capitalism, ended up turning it into the party of the most backward sectors of the local chieftains and the rural petty bourgeoisie. Its primary rival were the nationalist expressions of the national Arab bourgeoisies: Nasser in Egypt, Ba’ath in Syria and Iraq, Gaddafi in Libya, the FLN in Algeria or the PLO in Palestine. It is this confrontation which on the one hand will lead to the birth of jihadism as its militaristic split in the 1970s and on the other hand will bring Erdogan and his movement closer to the main branch of the Brotherhood already in the 1990s. Erdogan presented himself to them already in the 1990s as the successful representative of the rise of a nostalgic and conservative rural petty bourgeoisie. Having become hardened against a secular and Europeanizing political apparatus established by Atatürk, the Turkish road became very attractive to an Islamist leadership that still saw power a long way ahead.

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    What role does Turkey play in the Islamist environment?

    Turkish and Qatari support for the Brotherhood has modernized them to some extent and in turn transformed the Turkish political landscape.

    Istanbul is today the center of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Turkish state is investing in and supporting the branches of the organization and, more importantly, facilitating efforts to organize and represent them. Dozens of television stations, mostly affiliated with branches of the Muslim Brotherhood, attest to Turkish support for these groups.

    With this tremendous investment, the promise of Erdoganism has essentially been fulfilled: Islamism and within it the Muslim Brotherhood have become the beneficiaries of the defeat of al-Qaeda and the Islamic state. The movement that can be observed in the Middle East, but also and especially in Europe, is that of a displacement of layers and groups that supported or at least sympathized with jihadism toward the classic Islamism of the Brotherhood. And at the same time, the emergence of a whole series of organizations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood that adopt and adapt identity-based discourses typical of the Anglo-Saxon post-modern left as a way of gaining ground in countries like Tunisia or Algeria but also in France or Belgium.

    The two organizations banned in France after Paty’s murder are indicative of this two-tiered movement. Baraka City never hid his sympathies towards the Islamic State even when its own name was a tribute to one of the founders of Hamas and after yesterday’s banning its founder applied for political asylum in Turkey. The other outlawed organization, the CCIF, was one of the pioneers in implementing Anglo-Saxon-style racialism for political use by Islamism and was at the head of the French replica of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer. Its discourse: any attempt by the state to regain control over the ghettos governed in practice by the Brotherhood would be Islamophobia. Following this trail, in Tunisia the campaign to denounce the alleged macronite Islamophobia is being led by Meem, a magazine of the Brotherhood on the same line:

    It represents a stripe of the Muslim Brotherhood which does not hesitate to support progressive ideas when it fulfills its agenda. On its website, it claims to “prioritize women,” and presents itself as “feminist” and “liberal.

    What is the crux of the confrontation between the French state on the one hand and Turkey and Islamism on the other?

    The French Tonnerre helicopter carrier is escorted by Greek and French ships.

    The background is the clash of imperialist interests between France and Turkey. France has been displaced in its bases of influence in the Middle East. In Syria it supported the PKK-YPG against the Turkish army. In Lebanon, one-off alliances between Iran-Hezbollah and Turkish-Brotherhood have made it almost impossible for France to regain a leading role despite Macron’s efforts. In Tunisia, which until the Arab spring was the most faithful of the former colonies, it now has to deal with the local party of the Brotherhood which is part of the government and puts sticks in the wheel of French interests. In Libya, the Tripoli government, controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, was able to contain and reverse the offensive of a Haftar backed by France, Russia, Egypt and the Emirates, thanks to the decisive intervention of Turkey… which has come to build a military base from which it refuses to leave. Even in Nagorno-Karabakh, French and Turkish interests are in direct conflict today.

    All this development has been accompanied by increasingly direct tensions and complaints, culminating in the sending of French warships and aircraft to reinforce the Greek army in its containment of the Turkish navy in the Eastern Mediterranean.

    And while the clashes and frictions between the two powers were raging… the Muslim Brotherhood was taking power in the French suburbs. La République, which had ignored the degradation of the working-class districts for a long time, was not going to allow them to become an internal frontline. Hence the Republican reconquest promised last February in all its glory. The speech against Muslim separatism not only denounced the Muslim Brotherhood but pointed directly to Qatar and Turkey as its patrons and organizers.

    With the escalation in Greece, Libya and Armenia and a multiplication of terrorist attacks and attempted attacks in the hexagon, Macron decided to double the bet and announced a new law for October 2nd. The announced goal was to enforce the training of local imams under state supervision. It was clear that the aim was to thwart the policy of influence of Turkey and Qatar through control of the mosques. The Turkish and Muslim Brotherhood response was to be expected.

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