Insincere Turkey

 
Keghart.com Editorial Board, 10 January 2012
 
When one considers the long list of reasons why Arab countries cannot trust Turkey Recep Erdogan’s vaulting ambition to lead the Arab World becomes a patently psychiatric case. The prime minister of Turkey and his voluble cohort Ahmet Davutoglu must be the only persons in the world who believe Arabs—states and people–will buy the “new, improved Turkey.”
 
Arab culture values and nurses long memory. While for Western countries the First World War is ancient history, for Arabs the Crusades are a relatively recent invasion—so is the brutal 500-year Turkish occupation of Arab countries. Arabs remember their martyrs who were slain by the Turks during WWI and in the decades prior to that war. It’s for these reasons that few Arab states have had warm relations with the Republic of Turkey since the early ‘20s. That Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Israel, and provided that country with essential foods in the late ‘40s is another reason why most Arab states have maintained correct—rather than warm—relations with Ankara. This feeling is shared by Arab people whether they live in monarchies, military dictatorships or socialist republics.
 

 
Keghart.com Editorial Board, 10 January 2012
 
When one considers the long list of reasons why Arab countries cannot trust Turkey Recep Erdogan’s vaulting ambition to lead the Arab World becomes a patently psychiatric case. The prime minister of Turkey and his voluble cohort Ahmet Davutoglu must be the only persons in the world who believe Arabs—states and people–will buy the “new, improved Turkey.”
 
Arab culture values and nurses long memory. While for Western countries the First World War is ancient history, for Arabs the Crusades are a relatively recent invasion—so is the brutal 500-year Turkish occupation of Arab countries. Arabs remember their martyrs who were slain by the Turks during WWI and in the decades prior to that war. It’s for these reasons that few Arab states have had warm relations with the Republic of Turkey since the early ‘20s. That Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Israel, and provided that country with essential foods in the late ‘40s is another reason why most Arab states have maintained correct—rather than warm—relations with Ankara. This feeling is shared by Arab people whether they live in monarchies, military dictatorships or socialist republics.
 

Many Arabs also feel insulted by Turkey’s decision to replace the Arabic alphabet with Latin letters. The switch, by Ataturk, is particularly galling to Arabs because to this day Turkey and Turks boast that they had dispensed with the “primitive” Arabic alphabet and adopted the “progressive” Latin alphabet. In the same breath Turks also claim that they had banned the Arab fez because the headgear was a symbol of Arab “backwardness.” It’s no secret that Ataturk’s decision was intended to symbolize Turkey veering its gaze toward the West and disassociate itself from the Arabs and the East. The culmination of this aspiration is the decades’ long Turkish effort to join the European Union. Now, after playing the rejected lover to Europe, Turkey is turning its glance toward the Middle East. Arabs, of course, know about Turkey’s failed tango with Europe. Any Arab with integrity would refuse to be Turkey’s second-choice suitor.
 
Arabs—a proud people despite their many collective failures in the 20th century—believe that three non-Arab Middle Eastern states want to dominate the region. Turkey is one of the trio which includes Iran and Israel. When Arabs have fought Israel and Iran to make sure those two countries fail in their imperial designs, there’s no reason why they would tolerate domination by Turkey—a country whose cruel yoke they bore for half a millennium.
 
The 22 Arab states have a population of 355 million. Turkey has a population of 75 million. Egypt, with 82 million people, has a bigger population than Turkey. When 15 million Kurds—who have no love for Turkey—are discounted from that country’s population Turkey becomes a madly ambitious frog which wants to swallow the cow.
 
The choice of the “cow” descriptive is not accidental. Turkey considers the Arab countries fat cows ready to be milked. As well, to this day many Turks refer to Arabs as “hayvan” (animal) or “esshek” (ass).
 
Soon after the termination of WWI, Sharif Hussein of Mecca (the leader of the Arab Revolt) and later his son, Emir Abdullah of Transjordan, tried to become leaders of the Arab world. They failed, just as Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser did in the ‘50s and the ‘60s. Arab states and people refuse to have a single leader representing them from the Atlantic to the Gulf. Why would they accept the leadership of a foreign and untrustworthy Turkey when they have refused single leadership by one of their own? Not just foreign leader but an irascible, double-talking braggart called Erdogan.
 
Well-informed, sophisticated Arabs also know that Turkey still nurtures its racist Turanic Empire dream–one Turkic state from the Bosporus to Bhutan and the Chinese border. This imperial and exclusivist dream is a nightmare for any thinking Arab.
 
Erdogan, Davutoglu and Gul (“The Three Tenors”) are marketing Turkey as a progressive force and country which would help Arab achieve democracy, tolerance, equality… Yet one look at the Middle Eastern headlines reveals that Turkey continues to kill Kurds and mistreat millions of Turks, in addition to millions of Alevis, Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Jews, and Zazas. Even Turks—hounded by various unjust laws—are far from being free people.
 
Arabs have yet another reason to suspect Turkey’s goodwill. A glaring characteristic of Turkey’s (Ottoman and current) strategy and policies in the past two centuries has been what North Americas Native Nations call “talking with a forked tongue.” Double speak, in other words. Turkey says one thing and does another. Threatened by European powers, Ottoman Turkey promised reforms and a democratic constitution in the 19th century. Instead, the empire’s minorities were persecuted and many of them slain or deported to create a homogenous Turkish country. Ataturk’s “modern” Turkey continued the dishonest policy… became friends with the Soviet Union then became an ally of USSR’s foes. Pretending to be a democracy, modern Turkey has been a dictatorship for most of its recent history. It remained neutral during WWII but declared war on Germany a few months before the defeat of that country. It was friendly with Israel while pretending to be a Moslem country sympathetic to Moslem interests. These days Turkey is “friendly” with the West while remaining friendly with Iran—the West’s enemy. Erdogan’s foreign minister—Ahmet Davutlogul—pontificates about Turkey’s foreign policy of “zero problems with neighbors” while at the same time preaching neo-Ottomanism—a policy which by its very definition—would be unfriendly to the Arabs.
 
It’s the height of hubris for a state like Turkey to imagine that it can become Big Brother to a people who have contributed a thousand times more to human civilization than the violent loudmouths of Ankara.
 
Finally, a country where “Armenian” is considered a swear word, a word politicians deploy to destroy the career of a rival can’t call itself a country which others should consider a sincere, tolerant, progressive or admirable.

 

 
 
7 comments
  1. Dishonest Ankara

    I like the way you nailed the Erdogan/Davutoglu fantasy. I wish someone would translate this editorial and distribute it to the Arab media. The adage "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts" should be changed to "Beware of Turks bearing gifts."

  2. Antakya

    And let’s not forget Antakya. The northern part of Syria was illegally incorporated into Turkey in the late ’30s. To this day, no Arab government has recognized Turkey’s appropriation of this northern Syrian territory. Ankara’s refusal to return the province–now called Hatai by Turks–is a textbook example of Turkey’s ambitions to grab more Arab territory, especially in Syria and in Iraq.

  3. Arabs and Armenians

    Reading this editorial drew me to look for an article recently published in the "New York Times", written by Ali A. Allawi. He was Iraq’s minister of trade, defense and finance in succession between 2003 and 2006. He is the author of “The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace.”
     
    Below are excerpts from the article:
     
    In the American-Iranian cold war, Iraq must resist being dragged into a confrontation.”
     
    The Arab successor states to the Ottoman Empire have all proved to be unstable, prone to violence and easy targets of foreign intervention and control.”
     
    “Iraq should welcome Turkey’s return to the Middle East, not as a neo-Ottoman Empire but as a successful example of a dynamic economy rooted in a democratic state that respects its Islamic heritage.”
     
    What I am driving at is the following. Keghart’s editorial is factual in presenting historical events and dealings, but may be drawing conclusions with an Armenian perspective.
     
    The Arabs will continue to have bilateral relations with Turkey no matter what. Naturally, these relations will not be based on sentiments alone but also on mutual benefits. Arabs have one distinct advantage over us. Their dealing with Turkey will be from a position of strength. If nothing else, around 325 million Arabs over a vast stretch of geography rich in natural resources are a force to reckon with.
     
    Arabs sympathize and have been sympathetic to our cause. They provided us a secure haven. However, our experiences with Turks will not factor in any way in the Arabs’ equation when it comes to their relations with Turkey.
     

    We are on our own in righting the wrongs done to us. For a brief moment let us give credit to ourselves. In spite of our shortcomings, and not being where we want to be, we have done well and are ever more on track. 

  4. Comments on ‘Dishonest Ankara’ by Hayorti

    Excellent comments.  what good is a comment however truthful if it is not shared by the masses. Specially such a factual article such as this one. Does Keghart.com have the resources to follow such a patern.  Maybe it’s time we help with donations.

  5. Armenians, Palestinians and Israelis

    According to an Israeli magazine (quoted in the Armenian Times.am Web on Jan. 16), the Israeli government thrice pressured the Republic of Armenia not to recognize the Palestinian political entity. That was the price Tel Aviv demanded for Israel’s recognition of the Genocide of Armenians.

    I am sure Arab states and people would be interested to know the extent Armenia is committed to Palestinian rights and to justice–inconvenient as it may be. Every Arab knows Turkey was one of the first states to recognize Israel in 1948. Arabs have to ask themselves whether there’s any reason why they should trust Ankara. Armenia is not playing games with the Arabs; it has no strategic ambitions in the Middle East, unlike Turkey. Erdogan’s Turkey pays lip service to Arab interests–unlike Armenia.

    1. Let’s not fall into the Israeli trap

      Thank you Mesrob for bringing this news bit to the attention of readers following this thread. Self-interest motivates any country–big or small, powerful or weak. It does not surprise me at all that–if a fact–Israel has pursued such a diplomatic "blackmail" against Armenia. Politics has no morals.

      Having said so, Israel being so protective of whatever goes on around the Holocaust, sets it apart from other countries. The Holocaust, if not the raison d’être of Israel, was the major precipitant of an unprecedented political and diplomatic maneuver that led to its creation by superpowers and Zionism, unlike other countries that came to existence through national liberation movements.

      Toying with the Genocide of the Armenians is an immoral act, and geo-political considerations should not be factored in while making a decision whether to recognize it or not.

      Irrespective of how much Israel’s recognition could elevate the chances of other countries following suit–such as US–I hope Armenia and Armenians won’t fall into this trap. Arabs, including Palestinians welcomed us from day one following our Holocaust. Granted, at present there are no chances of Arab countries recognizing it, but that should not deter us from the path Armenians have chosen so far– thanking Arabs for their understanding of our issues and their kindness towards us. Let our high moral grounds set us apart from Israeli "blackmails" against people and countries alike.

  6. The Author Proved
    The author proved that there are still a lot of things to consider regarding this matter. We can give an opinion but we can never intercept their decision, since we’re just spectators, although concerned because we’re under the same sky.

     

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