We in the Middle East have replaced humiliation with dignity

Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, writes:

The wave of revolutions in the Arab world was spontaneous. But it also had to happen. They were necessary in order to restore the natural flow of history. In our region – west Asia and the south Mediterranean – there were two abnormalities in the last century: first, colonialism in the 1930s, 40s and 50s that divided the region into colonial entities, and severed the natural links between peoples and communities. For example, Syria was a French colony and Iraq a British one, so the historical and economic links between Damascus and Baghdad were cut.

The second abnormality was the cold war, which added a further division: countries that had lived together for centuries became enemies, like Turkey and Syria. We were in Nato; Syria was pro-Soviet. Our border became not a border between two nation states, but the border between two blocs. Yemen was likewise divided.

Now it is time to naturalise the flow of history. I see all these revolutions as a delayed process that should have happened in the late 80s and 90s as in eastern Europe. It did not because some argued that Arab societies didn’t deserve democracy, and needed authoritarian regimes to preserve the status quo and prevent Islamist radicalism. Some countries and leaders who were proud of their own democracy, insisted that democracy in the Middle East would threaten security in our region.

Now we are saying all together: no. An ordinary Turk, an ordinary Arab, an ordinary Tunisian can change history. We believe that democracy is good, and that our people deserve it. This is a natural flow of history. Everybody must respect this will of the people.

If we fail to understand that there is a need to reconnect societies, communities, tribes and ethnicities in our region, we will lose the momentum of history. Our future is our sense of common destiny. All of us in the region have a common destiny. [Continue reading…]

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3 thoughts on “We in the Middle East have replaced humiliation with dignity

  1. delia ruhe

    That’s typically super-confident Ahmet Davutoglu. Whatever happens in Libya, Qadafi won’t be part of it. He doesn’t fit. And can you envision Israel as part of this vision for “west Asia and the south Mediterranean,” as Dav correctly calls it? Israelis better get started on that massive sea-change.

    There’s an interesting, if somewhat dry, study of Cast Lead over at the Middle East Policy Council by a guy called Andrew Flibbert titled “The Gaza War: Instrumental Civilian Suffering?” His answer to that question is Yes:
    In short, civilian suffering appears to have been more intended than not, more permitted than prevented, and more integrated into Israeli strategic plans than unexpected or undesired. Cast Lead seems to have delivered precisely what its planners and implementers wanted in operational terms. It is unlikely that Israeli leaders did not have a good sense for what would result from an IDF engagement with Hamas in Gaza. There is no evidence that the operation unfolded in ways that surprised or displeased its military architects or political authorizers. Unlike Israel’s war with Hezbollah in 2006, there are no indications of strong dissent at the cabinet level, even if opposition party members contended that the offensive did not go far enough and there was reported disagreement on an exit strategy.75 Cast Lead had overwhelming public support in Israel from start to finish, leaving the Olmert government fairly unconstrained in how it conducted it.76 The war’s aftermath saw few public Israeli expressions of regret for the damage done in Gaza or the lives lost, and approval remains high to this day.77 This supports the notion that Cast Lead achieved precisely what was intended.

  2. Norman

    Democracy. The only thing stopping the Arabs from attaining the greatness they want and deserve, is the greed of the plutocracy. Some say that to attain democracy, takes many many years. Freedom, only takes a moment in time, but it does take vigilance as well as honesty to maintain it. Whether or not the present day Arabs will be able to achieve these goals, will depend upon the populations abiding by what is right for all, not just the few. The so called new world order has to be based on freedom for all, not just what the few want to give. Today, the Arabs have the opportunity to not only change their world, but also the rest of their fellow inhabitants on this earth.

  3. Christopher Hoare

    Davutoglu is someone all too rare today, a statesman whose opinions are both realistic and trustworthy. It is a hopeful sign that others, such as the Egyptian uprising, are looking to Turkey as the basis for their own change. Turkey is not perfect, what country is? But I suspect reality, and Davutoglu’s ideas, could guide the region away from being a neoliberal satrapy toward a stable society that can be largely self-contained. Enough of ‘growth’ and economic ‘efficiency’ within this finite world, it’s time to redesign our societies to serve the humanity, not the plutocracy.

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