As the Arab world marked this week the 30th anniversary of the Kuwait invasion and its catastrophic impact on the region, which was caused by a megalomaniac dictator, another delusional leader seems bent on antagonising his neighbours as he chases a fictitious dream of bringing back what he sees as his country’s old glory.
In 1990, Saddam Hussain invaded Kuwait. His disastrous move led to a global war that destroyed most of Iraq’s cities and vital installations, 20 years of crippling international sanctions and eventually the collapse of his regime and later his execution on the hands of the new government.
The Arabs who resisted the Turks for centuries and managed to uproot them from their land almost a century ago will not accept a new Turkish hegemony
Today, Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, shows similar despondent tendencies. His disastrous adventures in Syria, Iraq and Libya tells the story of a delusional demagogue chasing the dream of bringing back the so-called ‘old glory’ of Turkey’s Ottoman state.
An occupying power
For the Arabs, Erdogan seems to forget, the Ottomans were occupiers. They ruled several Arab regions with an iron fist. For centuries, they used Arab youth as foot soldiers in their military exploits in Europe. They obliterated the Arabic language and culture from the public sphere.
The Arabs who resisted the Turks for centuries and managed to uproot them from their land almost a century ago will not accept a new Turkish hegemony.
Apparently, the version of history Erdogan is reading is a distorted one. He desperately needs to get his facts straight. Only then, can Turkey’s relations with its Arab neighbours improve.
This looks increasingly doubtful. Last week’s statement by his defence minister in which he issued a direct threat to the UAE shows their level of arrogance that put them in hot water with all their neighbours in the first place. The Turkish government is now blaming the UAE for their own self-inflected misfortunes.
Fallacy on every level
Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar claimed the UAE was working against his country’s interests in Syria and Libya. That is a fallacy on every level.
In addition to its long-standing policy of non-interference in the affairs of other countries, the UAE is very well in its right if it extends a helping hand to another Arab state. The right question is what is in it for Turkey?
Turkish interests will be best served by mending its ties with the region, economically, culturally and hopefully politically. Turkish interests cannot be served by attacking Arab countries and complaining of the help extended to Erdogan’s victims by other Arab states.
That is just an absolute arrogance, a reminiscent of the old Ottoman style of occupation, which has no place in today’s world.
Turkey can no longer behave like “the [ottoman] Sublime Porte and use the language of colonialism. [These] illusions belong to the history archives ... and relations between states are not conducted with threats,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Gargash rightly tweeted on Sunday, urging Ankara to end its meddling in Arab affairs.
For the region’s and Turkey’s sake, we hope they do listen.