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Turkey: Here's Our List of Demands - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu put forward his country’s viewpoint with regards to the future of our region, from Mauritania to Fez to the Strait of Hormuz to Istanbul, stressing that that the obstacles preventing Turkish openness to the region have begun to fall and that “history has returned to its normal course.” He also confirmed that Turkey “will keep dealing with every kind of problem in the region. We will not remain indifferent to any problem.”

As a result of these statements, I asked a group of Arab officials and foreign ministers or their advisers and deputies to provide me with a shopping list of what they want from the “returning Sultanate” who – according to a senior Turkish presidential adviser – “flies with multiple wings and has vast horizons.” Of course their requests were similar, and include the following:

Firstly, the solving of the Palestinian issue and consequently the Arab – Israeli conflict, and this includes an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, even if we do not know how Turkey will manage to help with this in light of its tense relations with Israel, which – according to informed sources – is something that Syria is concerned about. Secondly, for Turkey to convince Iran to release the regional countries from its grip, as well as put an end to sending its cells [to our regional countries] and also stop hijacking Iraq and Lebanon.

The other issue, according to an Arab official, is that so long as the Americans are failing to export democracy, what is required from Turkey is for it to export secularism to our region, particularly since senior Turkish presidential adviser Arshad Hormozlo denies that his country is facing a historic transformation into an Islamic state. Hormozlo said that this would be “impossible, for Turkey is built upon four principles which cannot be changed or modified, the first of which is that Turkey is a democratic and secular state that adheres to the principle of the rotation of power.”

At this point, an Arab official said “if only Hamas would follow Turkey, and not vice versa” for if this were the case Ankara would be teaching Hamas the principles of the Turkish state, the most important of which is the non-existence of dictatorship as a result of coup d’état. Since one thing reminds us of another, what is also required from Turkey – according to another Arab official – is for it to strive to ensure that Arab armies protect the constitutions [of their States], following in the Turkish model rather than the model of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, particularly with regards to Iraq and Lebanon. Of course, it would also be good if Turkey could convince Iran to stop repressing its people and exporting its revolution, instead shifting towards secularism.

The majority of those I spoke to also unanimously agreed upon the necessity of Turkey continuing – and according to one [official], with their gratitude – in attempting to resolve the Lebanese issue, particularly through regional intervention, and also by convincing Syria that Lebanon is an independent State. Turkey should also prevent Iran from turning Lebanon into a missile launch-pad for its crises. As for Iraq, what is simply required is for Turkey and Iran to put an end to the repeated attacks which are taking place on Iraqi soil, not to mention the targeting of the Kurds, for as one Arab official said, the Kurds are human being too, like the people of Gaza.

Does the list end here? Of course not! For this is a huge list of demands, especially as Turkey’s horizon is 360 degrees, as the Turkish Foreign Minister previously said, and so in brief, this list also includes: preventing Sudan from falling apart, resolving the western Sahara conflict, the problems in Yemen, the crisis in Somalia, as well as Iran’s occupation of three Emirati islands, and of course there are issues with regards to development and others, including combating terrorism.

An Arab official said that if Turkey manages to achieve even half of these demands, we will call it a Sultana for the next 500 years, however what has Turkey achieved for us in the past 50 years?

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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