Turkey in the New Middle East Game
I spent my vacation in Istanbul, Turkey.
The most important subject in Turkey in the past three weeks and also now is whether Turkey should send soldiers to Lebanon or not.
The public is for a clear NO. But the ruling party and some part of the military and media is for a YES. In the beginning of September the Turkish parliament has decided for YES, which will mark the end of the ruling party. The new chief of Turkish Army (even though he will serve only for two years) will accelerate the expected end of the AKP (Justice and Development Party). The AKP’s actions in almost four years have proved that current Turkish government is the puppet of EU, USA, Israel and the World Bank and the IMF. The only exception was the decision of the parliament three years ago on not allowing the US using the Turkish soil to enter into Iraq. A few months later the same parliament had changed its opinion and allowed the US to use the Turkish soil. But the US said; No, Thanks.
Now, the ruling party does not want to repeat the same “mistake” and does everything to side with the US.
By the way, AKP has only one single advantage: it has no real alternative yet. A party with one quarter of the votes of the Turkish population unfortunately rules the country. And that one quarter vote came thanks to AKP’s use of religion. Today, Turkey needs a strong leader and a reasonable moderate party to end corruption and terror.
Why Turkey should not send soldiers to Lebanon? There are certainly pros and cons.
Here are the striking reasons claims by contrarians in Turkey.
· Lebanon is the only Muslim populated country which has officially accepted the Armenian “genocide” in Turkey.
· Instead of Lebanon, Turkish army should focus on eliminating the PKK.
· Turkey is used by imperial powers and their international organs.
· If Hariri family does not care about their country why Turkey should care? Note that Hariri family paid $6.5 billion for 55% of Turkish Telecom and has bought the MNG Bank in Turkey recently.
· Turkey has no vital national interests in Lebanon.
· Both Lebanon and Syria have been and are supporters of PKK.
· Already fragile relations with Arab countries and Iran will become worse.
The supporters mainly claim that Turkey cannot turn its back to the developments on its backyard, Turkey should not leave a Muslim populated country alone, Turkey should support the UN resolutions, Turkey will be welcomed by the EU, Turkey can bring peace to the region and might become a regional power.
The lists goes on but interestingly none of the discussions in Turkey has mentioned the role of proposed extension of BTC pipeline to Israel (see my previous articles Israel Lebanon War and BTC Pipe and The Middle East is Pregnant).
Moreover, analysts in and outside of Turkey do not grasp one fundamental point. Turks and Arabs are two separate races. Arabs have been ruled by Ottomans almost 500 years. And maybe because of that Arabs and Turks could not get along. Their most obvious single common character is the religion besides some religious traditions, some words in their languages and cuisine.
World politics is strange. Old enemies can become friends and old friends can become enemies with time. That is why the word “friend” to many is nothing more than a six character word.
Just one single example is enough to demonstrate that.
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdullaziz was in Istanbul in the beginning of August.
Instead of talking about oil and gas, the whole Turkish media concentrated on what the King ate, at what time he woke up, the money he spent to change the toilets in the luxurious hotel he stayed, and also his property in Istanbul. Some were speculating that the reason of King Abdullah’s visit was to establish a Sunni pact. Some others were showing the agreements on building a super luxury Saudi-Turkish hospital chain in Istanbul.
It is quite natural that Saudis and some other Middle Eastern countries (especially the UAE) see Turkey as a safe haven for them and for their petrodollars, an attractive investment and vacation place. Remember that former Saudi oil minister, Zeki Yamani, had his daughter’s $2 million wedding in Istanbul in May 2006.
They are partly right, even though the historical relations between Turks and Arabs have been rather cloudy.
Think of Saudi Arabia. Grand grand Father of King Abdullah was killed in Istanbul. But now Turkish PM Erdogan and King Abdullah walk hand in hand.
A bit history.
Grand grand father of today’s Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdullaziz was Abdullah bin Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia.
King Saud was grand grand son of Mohammed (not the prophet). And Mohammed was the husband of Abdulwehhab’s daughter. Abdulwehhab was the founder of Wahhabism.
According to bin Saud, there was only one way to introduce and expand Wahhabism: sword. He brought together thousands of people in 1801 and killed over 5 000 people from Sinai to Iraq. Based on Abdulwehhab’s teaching he was claiming that there is no cemetery tradition or grave in Muslim religion. Therefore, he destroyed all graves of holy people (except for Prophet Mohammed) in Mecca, Medina, and Kerbela. Moreover, over many years nobody could return from Hadj to Mecca.
In those times the region was ruled by Ottoman Empire. When Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II ordered Mehmed Ali Pasha, the Governor of Egypt, to capture bin Saud and to bring him to Istanbul. (Note that Egypt in those times was also ruled by the Ottomans). Mehmed Ali Pasha gave this job to his son Ibrahim Pasha.
Ibrahim Pasha captured bin Saud, brought him to Egypt first, and then sent him by ship from Iskenderiya to Istanbul.
The ship arrived at Istanbul on the second week of February 1820. Bin Saud and his men were interrogated for three days about the stolen holy valuables from the graves bin Saud destroyed.
Finally, on 27 February 1820, the head of bin Saud was chopped off by Halil Aga, in front of Sultan Mahmud II in beyazid square. That day was the final day of the founder of Saudi Arabia.
This all story about bin Saud above is from the Turkish official records, reported by Murat Bardakci in Hurriyet, 13 August 2006.
Arabs started to hit Ottoman Empire from behind before and during the first world war, even though the Kalifah of Muslim religion was the Ottoman Sultan and the Sultan was calling the Muslims to Jihad.
This is the Turkish side of the story. I am sure official stories of individual Arab countries would differ from the Turkish one. I cannot say that there is a hate between Arabs and Turks. No. They consider each other as Muslim brothers. Many people in some Arab countries even like Turks.
Arab countries from North Africa to Red Sea were under the occupation of Ottoman Empire over 500 years. And today none of them speak Turkish. Why? Because, Ottomans considered the peoples in those countries as Muslim brother.
Ottomans and sometimes Turks are considered to be barbarians. Many countries in Africa were under Ottoman occupation for 500 years and today what is left from Ottomans there are mosques, water systems, bridges, schools, not Turkish language. The same countries stood under French colonization for a much short period of time. What is left from France is nothing but French language.
And yet, Ottomans were an empire and France was and is a Republic.
Countries like France have been spreading “democracy” and “liberty” for a long time. The British Empire was doing what France has been doing but at least it had the name of Empire.
Today, there is no more British Empire. There is the United Kingdom. Under this name (Kingdom) it is spreading “democracy” and “liberty”. What an irony!
World is full of ironies. Today, Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa happen to own a very significant part of the world’s oil and gas reserves. All are happen to be Muslim countries. Add to this Iran, which happens to be a Muslim country. All these countries also happen to be listed as undemocratic by the US State Department and some are even called terrorists or terrorist feeders.
Unfortunately, as long as money, strength, fame and political power remain to be the most important weaknesses of humanity, the world will never ever become a peaceful place.