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Erdogan plays to base with criticism of Tunisia

By slamming the dissolution of Tunisia’s parliament, Erdogan may have emboldened his ideological allies from the Ennahda party, but his criticism might backfire to further isolate political Islam.
Tunisian President Kais Saied (R) arrives with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
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Non-interference in domestic affairs and ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood have been two major conditions that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has faced in his fence-mending quest with Egypt and other Arab countries, leading him to tone down his rhetoric on regional issues in the past couple of years. Yet the Tunisian president’s decision to dissolve parliament has prompted a fresh outburst by Erdogan, fueling diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

Erdogan’s condemnation was meant as support for his close friend Rachid Ghannouchi, speaker of the dissolved assembly and leader of the Brotherhood-affiliated Islamist Ennahda party. “We see the developments in Tunisia as the smearing of democracy. The dissolution of a parliament of elected representatives is … a blow to the will of the Tunisian people,” he said April 4.

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