The appearance of a dangerous player in the Middle East’s political landscape, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), interesting alliances have begun to emerge despite many differences and to a certain extent feelings of animosity.
There is no arguing that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s policies polarized the Iraqis and prepared the ground for the formation of the ISIL, which now reportedly enjoys support of some Sunni groups, tribes, Al-Maliki’s opponents, some Turkmens, Kurds and former personnel of the Baathist army.
Situation in neighboring countries, which are astounded by ISIL’s gains in Iraq and consider this group as a genuine existential threat, is also rapidly changing. As the natural Al-Maliki-Rouhani alliance continues, ISIL movement toward Baghdad is encouraging the formation of yet another interesting and an unimaginable alliance i.e. of Rouhani-Obama. It seems that Iran’s nuclear program will not be the only issue on the agenda in the upcoming parleys in Geneva.
In the wake of the current Iraq crisis, the longstanding and warm Barzani-Erdogan bond has grown stronger and with the hostage crisis facing Turkey and subsequent developments along the Turkish borders, the dynamics of Al-Maliki-Erdogan ties — not known for their warmth — is also experiencing a shift.
Finally, the region is witnessing forging of alliances; alliances born of necessity. It is politics of convenience at its best. Alliances based on brotherhood that people, political leaders and states typically regard as “difficult” can succeed in the face of a threat or looming danger. Isn’t it tragic that the perception of a common foe is considered far stronger than the sentiments of love, brotherhood and mutual respect?
Looking at matters from Turkey’s perspective, Ankara has been laying great emphasis on a moderate and conciliatory strategy along the borders. The recent thaw in ties with Al-Maliki, regular monthly talks with Iran since Rouhani came to power and finally the message of congratulations sent to Egypt’s newly elected president are all steps in the right direction as far as Turkey’s interests are concerned.
The 50-year oil agreement that Turkey reached with Northern Iraq before the capture of Mosul, and Barzani’s subsequent talk of independence, were perceived by some people as Turkey’s growing influence in the former Ottoman-administered areas i.e. Mosul and Kirkuk. The fact that Turkey represented the route of passage for oil from Northern Iraq and Iran, which has recently been re-opened to the world, again attracted much attention. It is no secret that there are covert deep state organizations uneasy at the idea of a powerful Turkey. What is not clear is whether the turmoil on our borders is, as many claim, part of an international plan.
Even if we assume that there is some international conspiracy against this pre-dominantly Muslim region, it is difficult to explain our response. How could the region explode with a single spark and brothers start killing brothers? Is it entirely the work of foreign powers? How could any sinister plot succeed in a sound system based on love and the teachings of Qur’an? The problem, especially in this part of the world, is a general weakness of ideology. Until aggressive ideologies are shown to be false and mistaken, there will be no solution to the turmoil in the Middle East.
Indeed, ISIL is a group of people gathered around an ideological cause. The sole reason for it entering the agenda with horrifying practices — and their ongoing sectarian fighting — is the false nature of the ideology to which they subscribe to. They set out with the aim of establishing an Islamic state yet they do not realize this is not how an Islamic state is established according to the Qur’an. They read the Qur’an in Arabic yet they cannot escape the influence of a religion of nonsense that has spread across the world. They most likely interpret the verses of the Qur’an through a filter of extreme sectarian dogma, and often refer to that nonsense instead of the Qur’an. The end result is radicalism that is now one of the major problems facing the world. They have a strong desire to fulfill the commandments of Islam, but the faith they are enforcing now is not Islam at all.
While the problem is ideological, it is interesting that many countries, including the United States, have only been able to come up with a military solution, and have been unable to do anything to defuse radicalism in the past half century during which radicalism has grown stronger. An ideological error cannot be eliminated with newly purchased weapons, new edicts concerning jihad or mindsets that simply say “we will resist” in the absence of any strength.
In the same way that the Shiite sectarianism that developed after Saddam gave rise to today’s Sunni sectarianism, so the recent incendiary rhetoric of destruction will nourish radicalism in the same way.
Issues must be resolved peacefully as much as possible, and measures must be taken to overcome false ideologies. There is no place in the Qur’an for sectarian conflicts, anti-democratic practices and non-defensive wars. The killers who claim to act in the name of Islam need to be shown that.
The Ottoman Empire was not perfect, yet there was no such turmoil in these lands when they were Ottoman because the warmth and loving spirit of Islam prevailed in them. There are now efforts to eradicate the artificial borders drawn in these former Ottoman lands through bloodshed and hatred; that is ultimately a doomed endeavor. Of course borders between countries should be abolished in the psychological sense, but that is only possible with a union of love. Alliances of convenience can fall apart in a moment in the face of danger, but alliances of love are permanent. There can be no mines on the borders, barbed wires or planes shot down for violating air space in such alliances.
Why do countries that have succeeded with alliances of necessity in a moment not believe they can succeed in an alliance of love? How many more tragedies do there have to be for them to believe that problems can be solved through education and that alliances can emerge through love?
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arab News: