6 April 2010

Turkey Rising, Arabs Sinking - Halid Amayreh

While many Arab states are buried beneath their incapabilities and fighting with each other, Turkey is slowly, but with determined steps putting itself forward as a leading nation of the Middle East, alongside Israel and Iran. Especially during the period of AKP dominance Turkey has continued to expand its influence towards the East with resolute steps, preparing itself for the rank of leading Sunni nation.

Doubtlessly, Turkey fills a psychological and strategic gap, especially in the Arab world.
This gap makes it clear that the result of blind obedience to America has led to an unhappy situation and a loss of influence for Egypt and other traditional Arab states.

Turkey’s rise in the region is a complete success story, which can serve as a role model for other nations.

Turkey’s Rising Star

Without the use of the political lawlessness found in many Arab states, when the AKP came to power by way of elections it silently and cleverly tried to resolve a set of chronic problems that were plaguing Turkey. In the end, the AKP successfully treated many of the economically rooted sicknesses with surprising effects and aftereffects. Turkey’s economy overcame its once chronic doldrums, and at the same time extraordinary growth was recorded, especially in the manufacturing and export sectors. Today Turkey ranks as the world’s seventeenth economic power. At the same it can proudly stand up and say, “No,” to America and Israel.

In domestic politics, the Turkish government, by opening its ears to unresolved Kurdish problems and the troubles of Kurdish people, silently tried have their language and cultural rights legitimized, or at least to see to that they were not denied. For stabilizing domestic politics and increasing domestic security, since economic wellbeing is their basic prerequisite, this was a great help.

Under Erdogan’s leadership Turkey made headway towards resolving its longstanding problems with Armenia, thus depriving Israel and the American Jewish lobby of a sensitive pressure point that they had used over and over to keep Turkey in the the Israeli-American orbit.

However, what’s most worth mentioning concern the AKP is its determination to protect its freedom of will against the US and Israel. Seven years ago as America was about to invade Iraq, the Turkish government refused to let airplanes attacking Iraq take off from the Incirlik base. President Erdogan defended this decision, saying that it reflected the collective will of the Turkish people. All this happened while most Arab states were competing with one another in order to please and placate the George W. Bush administration, which was murdering tens of thousands of Iraqis.

Erdogan had no need to give any explanations to the Americans. He just said, “No.” That was all.

Erdogan protects the dignity of one nation in the world that more closely resembles savage life than a society of civilized men. He did not shrink from confronting the world’s untouchable nation, Israel, which stages monstrous and Nazi-like attacks on the unfortunate Palestinian people. Due to certain practices Erdogan maintains relations with Israel, but he has shown Israel’s leaders very clearly that the future of Turkey’s relations with Israel will depend on their behavior, particularly with respect to Palestine.

At one time, coming from the leader of one of Israel’s strategic allies in the Middle East, these would be serious words. Israel has received the message, but we don’t know if they will internalize them and recognize their gravity.

Not being Arab, it is true that in Turkey’s foreseeable future Palestinians will not become proactive allies. But along with this, given Israel’s having forced the people of Gaza and other Palestinians to live through a Nazi-like genocidal venture, from now on Turkey will not play deaf and dumb. It will not look the other way. At the least, Turkey will no longer be a strategic asset for Israel, as it was before the AKP.

The Immobile Arab World

The Arab world, as opposed to the Turkish success story, continues to live with its internal divisions. From an economic perspective, many Arab states are struggling to stay on their feet, and meanwhile they are openly submitting their sovereignty and national dignity to Israel’s protector, America. Socially, the Arabs’ situation is perhaps the worst it has been since the fall of the Ottoman caliphate after WWI. The Arabs’ collective failure to accomplish the simple task of breaking the Gaza Strip blockade reveals a deep incompetence and the entire social body seems to be afflicted by paralysis.

Similarly, every Arab state or sheikdom is busy with its domestic issues, and efforts toward Arab economic and political unity find themselves blocked. The main cause of political paralysis, a suffocating kiss of death, is the control over the Arab world of a tribalist mentality and the despotism of powerful families. One of the most concrete expressions of this tribalist mentality, whether one observes a kingdom or a republic, is that autocratic Arab rulers hold their own people in check, and they exist to secure permanent power for themselves or their sons, but they do not seek to lead their nations or pursue their nations’ interests effectively. For example, Egypt’s population of 80 million makes it the owner of a tremendous human resource, and it has other resources in reserve, too. Once thought of as the tiger of Africa, due to its regime’s despotic policies and austere management, in every field of life this very important nation is headed backwards. It may easily be surmised that these circumstances feed and deepen social depression, indifference and desperation, since thousands of professionals have emigrated to find dignity, respect and job opportunities.

The Gulf States

For these rich Arab nations to be ruled by ignorant, decadent, clan-based despots is a frustrating cycle that they are caught up in, too, since the sovereign sheikhs’ ultimate strategy is to remain in power at any cost, even if this includes submitting to the will of foreign powers. It hardly needs to be said that in many cases these despots openly display their ignorance; they scandalously failed to turn the enormous financial resources under their control into concrete and long lasting economic realities. Some Arab sheikdoms are in reality so stupid that they pour billions of dollars into ostentatious, but economically unprofitable, projects, building tall towers to display their wealth.

However, these tribal chieftains, as we recently saw in Dubai, lack the basic tools to protect their economies from a real financial crisis. Destructive tribal thinking kept the culturally homogenous Gulf Cooperation Council nations from being able to establish a common market or a monetary union. Nor have they built a viable military force to protect themselves against the eventuality of a foreign attack.

No doubt the Arabs’ situation will continue to worsen until their house has completely and permanently fallen. If the Arab masses end their laziness, despair and indifference, only then will they grow strong again and win back the dignity and freedoms being usurped from them. Arabs are not stupid. If they want to learn from the Turks, our brothers in religion, they can learn. But while you can lead a horse to water, you can’t make him drink.

While the billionaires of the country where the Koran was sent to Hz. Muhammad (s.a.v) chase animal desires, they claim to be implementing Sharia law. Considering that food can’t be found for millions of Muslim children, which Sharia judgement would give such a decadent prince permission to spend his subject’s resources on his own wanton desires? Allah warns such a decadent prince in the Koran, and informs him that his punishment is only a matter of time: “God is rich, while you are poor. If you turn away, He will substitute other people in your place, and they will not be like you” (Muhammad, 47: 38).

Meanwhile, we would like to welcome our Turkish brothers again. We have been missing the Ottomans for a long time.

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