Today, millions of Turks will head to the polling stations to cast their votes, however, other tens of millions across the Middle East and the Arab world, like me, will be diligently watching the outcome of this election.
For me, and likewise for many Egyptians, Turkey has been a great source of inspiration where an independent people's movement ruled and succeeded. In addition to the inspiration was the solidarity Turkey showed to the Arab Spring and to the demands of Egyptians and other Arabs in the region for freedom and improved livelihood against the tyrannical regimes ruling them.
This solidarity proved to be sincere and altruistic, where Turkey not only vocally condemned the 2013 military coup in Egypt, but also opened its doors to thousands of Egyptians fleeing murderous persecution alongside millions of other Arabs, who likewise sought refuge in Turkey after their own countries' tragedies.
Unlike many other countries in the West or even within the Arab world that turned a blind eye to the mass suffering of Egyptians, Turkey stood with us against the junta from day one. Despite the fact that five years have passed from the beginning of the oppressive regime, I am still moved by Turkey's commitment to the ideals of the Arab Spring and I am proud to look towards Turkey as a regional leader for the Middle East. The elections today will be the precedent for political and social change throughout the region.
Egyptians like me will be watching how Turkey, through these elections, will overcome the consequences that followed its failed coup in 2016. While Egyptians from every walk of life have been crushed and deprived from having any space to voice their dreams and ideas about their own country after the 2013 military coup, Turkey can provide the region with an example of a vivid political process where both the pro and anti-government powers can march, debate, gather, contest and finally vote without fears of violence, intimidation or fraud. This directly and indirectly will have an impact on Egyptians along with other Arab countries in the region.
A stable and prosperous economy isn't something that concerns the Turkish voter alone, but it concerns me too, mainly for the inspirational model Turkey used to be and still is, where a regional elected government can build a strong economy independent from the petrodollars or interest-driven donations from international powers. This means a lot to the people of the region who have never stopped comparing their governments management of economy to the Turkish ones whether in industry, services, technology and such.
In terms of foreign policy, a stable free-handed government in Turkey is needed more than ever in a region where all the files are interconnected. A strong Turkey is a necessity to counter-balance the negative roles exercised by some Gulf monarchs and the expansion of Iranian hegemony. Likewise, a confident Turkey is needed as a free voice for Muslims across the world to oppose and resist the Trump endorsement of Israeli policies and oppression in Palestine, especially in Jerusalem and Gaza.
Additionally, a decisive Turkey is crucial in Syria and Iraq in the post-Daesh era where regional and international powers are focusing on their own narrow interests rather than those of the local populations. A strong and strategic-minded Turkey is needed not just as a source of inspiration for Egyptians, but as an ally to the Egyptian people to help them overturn the military coup and counter the regional counter-revolution that started in Egypt.
An ethical Turkey is needed not just as a safe haven for millions who have been displaced by war and ethnic cleansing, but also as a model of a country that values humanitarianism and that can protect and cure the wounds of the oppressed, as opposed to the EU and lately the U.S., who shut down their doors and borders.
While I can't cast my vote alongside the Turkish people on June 24, I anticipate the outcome of these elections not just for Turkey, but for my country Egypt and the entire region.
* Researcher and expert in Turkish-Arab strategic relations and minority affairs. Director of the Centre of Al-Mashreq Al-Arabi, Birmingham, U.K.
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