Recently, Turkish President Erdogan gave a frightening, blood curdling speech in which his penultimate conclusion was that both Aleppo and Mosul are Turkish.
In one moment, the pretend Sultan publically rebuked the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne signed by Ataturk and in particular he denied the terms of the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres which affirmed that the Arab lands of the erstwhile Ottoman Empire would be ceded.
The parts of Sèvres relating to Arab territory remain un-amended by the subsequent Treaty of Lausanne. The seeding of these Arab lands was the product of the Arab Revolt which began in the Hejaz in 1916 and ultimately ended in Damascus. Interestingly, one of the final battles of the revolt was in Aleppo, where Arab forces dealt a decisive blow to the Ottoman Empire.
But the story does not end there, where Britain had made promises to the Arabs of independence and freedom, instead they made a secret deal with France in 1916 to divide Arab lands into colonial mandates between the two great western imperial powers. The secret plan was first revealed to the world by the early Soviet press.
It would ultimately not be until after the Second World War that Arab lands would gain full independence. Under largely Kemalist governments, Turkey avoided direct confrontation with the Arabs, but under Erdogan this has changed.
As I have written previously, Erdogan is a Sultan of Many Clothes. He has presented himself as both the friend and enemy of just about every nation and peoples in the world at various times. Prior to the western engineered civil strife in Syria, Erdogan was busily prancing around the Arab world proclaiming himself a new Sultan in all but name.
The political disunity of the Arabs had allowed him to do this. Now, far from asking the Arabs to court him as a former colonial overlord turned pseudo-messiah, he is openly implying that Turkey will ‘take back’ Aleppo and Mosul.
The military realities bear this out. Turkey is in Syria illegally and recently Damascus has said that they consider any Turkish violation of Syrian territory to be an act of war and will respond accordingly. This includes the shooting down of Turkish jets. The Iraqi government issued a similar statement about Turkish presence in northern Iraq.
The blatant Turkish disregard for the sovereignty Arab lands must be dealt with. The only solution is a return to the principles of Arab unity, first politically proffered by General Nasser. Although much has been made of the impossibility of such unity, when one compares the prospects of Arab unity to that of European unity, one can better understand the potential of such unity.
The EU, for all its problems, isn’t going to go away any time soon. This is in spite of the fact that European peoples have little in common other than economic need. Their shared history is written in blood.
Religious wars, ethnic disputes, genocide, territorial disputes, ideological revolutions and language barriers tell the long tale of European interaction. Indeed, the modern European Union was created in part as an attempt to avoid conflict by creating an atmosphere of economic reliance and interdependence. Today it exists for pragmatic reasons rather than because of any actual unity between these peoples.
By contrast, the Arabs have been organically unified in the past. Look at the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates. The Arabs are a single people with a single language. The differences between varieties of Sunni and Shi’a Islam are far less than those between Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Arabs have every possibility to unite and every reason to do so.
Frankly it would be a reunification rather than a unification. But between the Sykes-Picot agreement which created borders to divide the Arabs, western neo-colonial interference into Arab affairs and powerful Wahhabi regimes in the Gulf who seek to enslave fellow Arabs to a western funded cult masquerading as Islam, things have been difficult.
Were there a new United Arab Republic whose borders stretched from Libya to Iraq, no Turkish leader would dream of saying Aleppo or Mosul are anything but Arab lands, to be ruled by Arab leaders. But because the Arabs remain divided, he has shouted it with vigour.
What a sad state of affairs it is that when Russian people living in what is historically Russian territory, vote to re-join Russia and the west go bonkers. Yet when a Turkish leader claims to want to restore Ottoman colonial rule over Arabs, no one says anything.
Erdogan’s words are dangerous and must be taken seriously. He clearly wants more than to just use Syria and Iraq as a place to fight Kurds he may otherwise be forced to fight in Turkey itself. He has designs on the Arab lands, he smells blood and President Assad knows this. Perhaps the only piece of tentative good news from the wider Arab world have been Egyptian military drills with Russia.
Some say that at long last, President Sisi may do the right thing, step away from the Saudis whose filthy feet he had been kissing, and join Russia in an Arabist battle against all the enemies of modern, free, Arab dignity.
From the nightmare that is Wahhabism on one side and Ottoman imperialism on the other, this is the time for the Arabs to resurrect the dream of unity in order not just to fight the enemies within and without, but to better themselves.