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DailySabah.com: Subtle intrigues in Middle Eastern politics

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Saturday, 30 December 2017

Subtle intrigues in Middle Eastern politics

December 30, 2017

Last week, we were in Sudan and witnessed how Turkish-Sudanese relations have reached their peak. After President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Sudan, a rare political atmosphere emerged in terms of international relations, especially at a time when the 21st century is being dubbed as the century of Africa.

Beyond mere political objectives, significant steps were also taken to improve economic relations between the two countries. Plans to build a harbor and a military shipyard in Port Sudan, improving the operations of its international airport, the restoration of Suakin Island by Turkish businessmen and a number of other agreements will take the economic volume of Turkish-Sudanese relations to $10 billion.

In political terms, the leaders of Turkey and Sudan are seen as the leaders of change. Sudanese people remember Ottoman rule with gratitude, and the ongoing rapprochement between the two countries is the beginning of a long-awaited alliance.

Turkey shines not only as a modern democracy ruled by a conservative government but also as an economic power with extraordinary capacity in industry and trade, especially in construction. Turkey's opportunities increase in its region of influence.

As the recent Jerusalem crisis showed, Turkey in the international arena is emerging as a country that is not solely pursuing its own national interests but as a regional power defending the rights and interests of all Muslims.

Yet, the U.S. and the U.K. continue to pursue their special agendas. The British colonial mentality, which aimed at inciting civil war between the Arabs and even between the Arabs and Iranians, will certainly attempt to play their "civil war" trick in Africa.

In the Syrian civil war, the Western powers' look to incite wars between religious sects to battle Iran's growing political influence, and they rely on Saudi Arabia to do so. Against the rise of Turkey as a regional power, they now invest in Arab nationalism. Unfortunately, however, the Turkish media easily fell into the old British trap.

Through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, Iran continues to make geopolitical moves that rely on militias. Iran's military strategy aims at holding psychological superiority through military triumphs. Not integrated in the world order and heavily reliant on its oil wealth, Iran pursues its goals in an unhindered manner.

Despite its military and economic power, Iran cannot reach Turkey's trade volume and play the crucial diplomatic role in the Palestinian cause. Thus, it is important for Turkey to debunk the recent nationalist discourses in the Arab world.

In the past, foreign affairs had been the exclusive field for technocrats and bureaucrats. Today, however, social media is (ab)used by leaders of the bigger powers to threaten individual countries. Thus, it is necessary to not add fuel to the increasing flame of Arab nationalism and Turkophobia.

In addition to the president's visit to Sudan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım's recent visit to Saudi Arabia aimed to resolve the ongoing polarization in the Islamic world.

While the Turkish committee visited Sudan, key members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in the country fled to Egypt. If Turkey-Egypt relations came to normal, not only Egypt will stop being the safe port for FETÖ, but also the intrigues aiming to prevent Turkey's move towards Africa through Arab nationalism will come to naught.

It is imperative for Turkey to pursue a multidimensional and multilateral foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond. By being aware of British traps and acting prudently, Turkey must pursue its higher goal of being a great state.

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