Heart of our region beats strong in Idlib - YASIN AKTAY

Heart of our region beats strong in Idlib

Our region is as active today as it was a century ago. We can consider certain groups’ implications through Enver Pasha as presumptuousness against our history. In the past, the state of groups that have become extremely alien to their history was explained with ideological detachment. However, we are learning that the alienation we are witnessing today cannot be evaluated as an ideological deviation. If the alienation today was the result of a “civilization crisis,” we would have certainly been in an ideological argument.

The activity in our region was the result of an imperialist struggle. When we encountered very strong imperialist attacks a century ago, our region had started to disintegrate. The confidence in the U.K. and France also have a role in this. Sharif Hussein had drawn closer to the British as he thought Istanbul would be defeated. Similarly, there are those today who believe that Turkey will be defeated, withdraw, that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be stopped or, in a more popular expression, that the Turkish nation will kneel. We cannot discuss this as an ideological matter.

We approach the latest period of the Ottoman Empire with a problematic perception. Renewal efforts had positive outcomes. Picking up the pieces after the ´93 War took a long time, yet the Baghdad and Hejaz railway was still pointing to the Ottoman Empire’s capacity to renew itself. In his book titled, “Western Imperialism in the Middle East 1914-1958,” D. K. Fieldhouse discusses the issue of Arab nationalism in depth and says that Sharif Hussein does not act on an ideological basis. Fieldhouse uses sociological data to explain that the harsh measures taken by Cemal Pasha cannot be an element triggering Arab nationalism. When Enver Pasha had sent Kusşçubaşı Eşref and Mehmet Akif to the Arab deserts, his aim was to persuade. An operation carried out with individuals such as Mehmet Akif was extremely important for the Ottoman Empire. The belief in Istanbul had to be maintained. The Sharif Hussein revolt having no ideological basis as Arab nationalism shows that the Ottomans’ prognosis was correct. However, correct identification was not enough as other tools were necessary to strengthen it.

Though Cemal Pasha’s strict measures are no reason for Sharif Hussein’s revolt, it was used by the British and the French. Once the Ottoman region was disintegrated, there was a rise in anti-Turkey sentiment. We can discuss the activities of the mandate administrations in this scope. It can be said that during the long 20th century, in which ethnic and faith-based groups were given prominence, no healthy relationship could be established between the elites and the people, and that vast masses were ignored. Today, the deep love towards Erdoğan needs to be analyzed very carefully. The Syria incidents can lead to major changes throughout the region at large. Erdoğan’s speeches in Cairo and Khartoum University provide an idea about the nature and direction of change. Holding this change subject to ideological analyses will prevent reaching correct outcomes. Turkey stopping the disintegration in Syria at one point may lead to positive results beyond prediction.

As I tried to explain earlier, there are those who liken the process today to the Ottoman Empire’s last struggle in Libya. As a matter of fact, there are even those who hold up the period associated with Enver Pasha as an example of what we are experiencing today based on negative connotations. The comparison is incorrect, hence, so are the conclusions they jump to. As they are not acting on the basis of an ideology, they are acting based on relations as they did a century ago. The Fetullah Terrorist Organization’s (FETÖ) ringleader also had faith in Britain. The strong resistance Anatolia produced on July 15, 2016, both revealed the century-old organizations and destroyed them. We can say that this resistance, which was formed in Anatolia, stopped Syria’s disintegration to a point. Encountering similar reflections throughout the whole region within a short period of time will not be surprising.

There is trust in Turkey in almost the entire region. They wanted to destroy this trust in Idlib. Turkey taking a step back could have been interpreted as the start of surrender or the disappointment of trust. Reflecting the results of efforts for renewal on the ground will take the trust formed in the streets of our region to the next level.

I do not know how regretful Sharif Hussein was. He had trusted in the relations he established; he was disappointed. They tried to produce a nation out of tribal awareness, which found no response in Arab streets.

We are discussing the future not the past. May a new age be ushered with the grace of God!


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