They All Walked This Path: Arab And Foreign Leaders Paint A Different Picture
03 July 2016
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
It is neither strange nor new for many Arabs to support a foreign or regional
leader for various reasons. The late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser,
the leader of the Iranian revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the former
president of Iraq Saddam Hussein and others are examples of leaders that have
enjoyed this support.
Currently, there is enthusiasm for the Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan,
who like his predecessors, finds himself the leader of some Arabs, even though
they do not speak the Turkish language. What is common amongst these
supporters of idolised leaders is that they are from different Arab
Arabs who supported such leaders were socialist and pan-Arabist behind Abdel
Nasser, Islamist behind Khomeini, Baathist and pan-Arabist behind Saddam. Now
they are Islamist behind Erdogan. Some Arabs support foreign leaders as a
silent protest against their own governments which they dare not openly
Dreamers and desperate Arabs ran after Khomeini forty years ago when he
advocated the liberation of Palestine and confronting the west. Saddam did the
same thing, and Erdogan is doing this now.
These Arabs believed that these leaders would be able to fight their battles,
but they faced disappointment after disappointment. No one will fight on their
behalf, and no Egyptian, Iranian or Turkish leader will fight for the
liberation of Palestine. Erdogan will not liberate Jerusalem and probably will
not even liberate neighbouring Aleppo. Not because he does not want to, but
because he does not possess the necessary capabilities to do so. He will only
launch this battle in the event that Turkish national security is greatly
Some of these leaders became victims of their own popularity. Abdel Nasser
lost the support of the masses and is an example of this. He promised the
crowds that came out on the street and clapped for him and the millions that
followed him on the radio in the sixties, that he would change the systems
within the Arab world and free Palestine. In the end, he lost everything.
Those Arabs who wave images of Erdogan and fervently cheer for him are more
dangerous to him than his opponents. Those who waved the pictures of Khomeini
and Nasrallah in the streets of Cairo, Kuwait and other countries turned
against them and they are the ones who are spreading hatred and hostility
Erdogan was politically elected, enjoys real popularity in his country and
there are no doubts about his economic successes. The Islam that Erdogan
preaches is moderate and has nothing to do with the Islam of his Arab
followers and admirers. Due to the fact that they do not understand these
details, they paint a different picture of Erdogan that is closer to the
leaders of extremism in the Gulf, Egypt and Jordan.
Eventually, they will be shocked and disappointed, and will then begin to
search for another leader whose picture they will wave.
Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the
former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of
Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass
communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is
currently based in Dubai.