The latest installment of The 'I' Files describes Anwar Ibrahim's long relationship with powerful politicians in Turkey. (Photo by Hussein Shaharuddin/The Mole)
KUALA LUMPUR: The ‘I’ Files, a book about Anwar Ibrahim being published one chapter at a time online, continues to offer revelations about the opposition leader, with the latest chapter describing his ties with Turkey.
The first four chapters were summarised by The Mole in May, followed more recently by summaries of the fifth and sixth chapters.
In the seventh and most recent chapter, the book’s pseudonymous writer, Jonathan Smith, describes Anwar’s support for a Turkish political party, which he says developed out of his relationship with the Saudis and their desire to spread their fundamentalist teachings in Muslim countries that they believed were too moderate.
Smith writes that he was surprised in 2008 when Anwar took refuge in the Turkish embassy, and especially when he claimed there may have been plans afoot to assassinate him.
“This would be unbelievable in a poor novel, so bad no author would expect an audience to believe it. But Anwar did,” Smith says.
Anwar has had close ties with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since the 1970s, says Smith, and the two men were united by “a belief in a purifying strain of radical Islam that could bring the world a little closer to perfection, and a belief in presenting this strain to the electorate through the lens of apparently moderate Islam”.
Both men enjoyed considerable support from the Saudis, says Smith, particularly from Prince Nayef of the House of Saud, who “has long seen Anwar and Erdoğan as his best bets, as the first line of assault in bringing their two countries into the Wahhabi fold, and so he poured and continues to pour Saudi assets and money into both Erdoğan’s and Anwar’s parties, advancing them and their causes”.
“Under the cover of advancing Islamic governance in the modern world, the two men hosted each other in countless conferences and official meetings in Kuala Lumpur and Istanbul in the 1990s, and Anwar continues to make Istanbul one of his homes away from home even now,” Smith says.
Smith claims the ties between Anwar and Erdoğan allowed the former to move the assets of many of his NGOs to Turkey when they had to be shut down in the wake of increased scrutiny by the US government.
Anwar relied on Erdoğan for support both before and after his imprisonment, and would also come to rely on another Turkish political figure, foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Smith writes:
It was no coincidence that Davutoğlu was briefly a student and, more importantly, a professor at IIU during Anwar’s days overseeing the institution, an intellectual who happily brought Saudi theology to once-moderate Malaysia. He was on the leading edge of renewed relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, working hand-in-glove with Saudi Arabia’s policy establishment to bring the two countries closer, a project he had imagined during the days and nights discussing hudud with Anwar.
When Anwar needed a stage for his Theatre of the Absurd – when he needed a true ally who would never question Anwar’s ridiculous claims to being in mortal peril over a sodomy charge – Anwar knew there was one embassy, and one foreign ministry, that would not look askance, and would never publicly question the entire stunt.
And so it was that he fled to the Turkish Embassy when faced with new sodomy charges. While many news reports claimed that Anwar had considered several possible refuges, there was really only one he trusted to sever ties with Putrajaya if need be, one where he knew staunch friends were waiting. And so he used his Turkish connection.
“[U]ltimately we found that an active financial and political channel between Anwar and his Islamist friends in Turkey was a key to understanding his plans, dreams and tactics,” Smith says.
Subsequent chapters, Smith says, will deal with Mahathir’s realisation “that he’d clutched a cobra to his bosom”, Anwar’s fall from grace, and the Saudis’ efforts to protect the fallen leader.
Read The ‘I’ Files for the full story.