Sultan Erdogan pulled a spectacular Lawrence of Arabia yesterday in Istanbul, at Marmara University:
“Lawrence was an English spy in an Arab land. But currently, the spies are springing out from our own countries in the shape of a journalist, writer or even a terrorist. You can witness the new ‘Lawrences’ trying to set the region on fire.”
Fascinating; virtually a century after perfidious Albion spawned the 1916-18 Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire, the New Sultan is now once again denouncing the West a well as Arabs.
The Sultan also stressed the “artificially made” borders drawn by colonial Britain and France post-World War 1 are “the real cause of long-term pain and crises.”
That’s even more fascinating; he’s as stridently decrying the Skykes-Picot agreement as his rival… The Caliph!
For The Sultan, “Turkey is the only country that can provide peace in the region. Turkey is the hope of the Middle Eastern people. Turkey can remove the barriers between Middle Eastern people not by changing physical borders, but by instilling hope and trust.”
As in “Assad must go; all power to the Muslim Brotherhood; preventing any possibility of Kurdish self-determination; and getting NATO to do the dirty work.
But all of this, of course, is off the record.
The Sultan has all the motives in the world to be uneasy. It’s true that a century later, Arabs are not revolting – again – against the New Sultan. But as much as they are also pro-“Assad must go”, their not-so-hidden agenda is fundamentally intolerant and sectarian: against Iran and Shi’ism in both Iraq and Syria.
Not to mention against the Muslim Brotherhood – which they see as a mortal threat to their dictatorships.
And not to mention these GCC petrodollar Arabs are not exactly jubilant with the notion of Turkey as the dominant regional power.
So many Lawrences on the loose. Such an enticing alliance on the horizon between The Sultan and The Caliph. Where’s Peter O’Toole when we need him?