Column: Turkey sedition in Arab media

Yasin AktayBY: Yasin Aktay

At the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the beginning connoting mercy, the ending salvation, we have reached Eid.

As a result of its nature, because it was obligatory upon those before us and because it is a series of worship observed worldwide, fasting has a function that automatically allows unity and integration among human generations and races, groups, nations, tribes and clans.

Despite this function, the state of the Muslim world today, in the month of Ramadan, is, far from being pleasant. Looking at what people of the same faith do to each other in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Egypt, despite Ramadan, despite Islam, which has made us brothers and sisters, as a complete blessing from God, when we were once enemies, how things came to be this way is undeniably the first question which comes to mind.

Of course we do not disregard the fact that an imperialist tutelage – continuing over the Muslim world for a century – has taken all kinds of measures against the likelihood of the formation of an Islamic world. All measures have been taken against an “Islamic world” reforming as a political force and these methods are constantly revised. The Arab Spring process represented a time in which this world rapidly made pace towards reformation. This process was interrupted with counterrevolutions.

However, despite these century-old measures, today, an Islamic world actually exists and this world has strong actors who need to assume responsibility. The current world is not what is was a century ago, half a century ago, or for that matter, the world that was 30 years ago. The communities that make up the Muslim world, are not ignorant of the world they live in; they want their governments to abide by the requirements of belonging to this world. Governments cannot resist these demands any longer.

A century ago, a propaganda that made Arabs and Turks particularly hate each other, which divided and destroyed the Islamic world, was systematically run by the imperialists. Because unity between Arabs and Turks is the fundamental condition of the formation of a strong Islamic world, the way to prevent this unity is to create animosity, hatred or at least unfamiliarity between them.

Since the Gulf crisis broke out, Turkey has taken special care to prevent the matter from turning in to a stance against Saudi Arabia all the while finding the treatment of Qatar erroneous. This is how it should be. It is a fact that today, Saudi Arabia contradicts with Turkey in many of its policies. However, this difference in a political perspective and approach does not change the fact that Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as a matter of fact the entire Muslim world, share the same fate.

Therefore, the difference of opinion between them should not lead to animosity and a disconnection in communication channels. Therefore, even though Turkey supports Qatar in this process, it is insistently avoiding discourse that could offend Saudi Arabia. Turkey’s tactfulness reflects in its own independent media as well and, despite the crisis, very little is published or broadcasted against Saudi Arabia. This, along with all its reasons, needs to be accurately assessed by Saudi administration. Those in authority need to be a little more careful in their discourse. Unfortunately, it is not possible to say the same for Saudi media. Since the crisis period begun, including Saudi Arabia’s semi-official media, Turkey’s attitude is being subjected to unjust – and even slanderous – assessment. The campaign against Qatar has suddenly turned in to a campaign against Turkey as well. Anti-Turkey sentiments were aroused on social media and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s speeches were taken out of context, being presented in a way to arouse reaction from the Arab world.

It cannot be claimed this campaign is a self-formed reaction of the Arab community. News and discourses were developed systematically from a center of sedition to stimulate hatred in Arabs toward Turkey. Yet, since the process begun, Turkey made it crystal clear should Saudi Arabia be in the same situation, its attitude would be the same.

Turkey risked standing against the U.S. for Saudi Arabia on the September 11 issue and will continue to do so. Due to the fact that Saudi Arabia was the one facing injustice, and the U.S. was clearly in the wrong. In the course of events, prudent circles of the Arab world appreciate such an intervention by Turkey which presents a great opportunity for the Muslim and Arab worlds.

One of the propagandas  used against Turkey and especially President Erdoğan is his statement on a French TV channel saying, “these are foreign to us,” in a reference to Wahhabism. Much was said on social media on this in Saudi Arabia, speeches were made. In this way, it was given the impression that Erdoğan is actually against Saudi’s sect understanding.

Yet what Erdoğan was referring to was not Wahhabism alone, but also Shiism and Sunnism in the sense of sectarian fanaticism, and Erdoğan actually frequently stresses his stance on the matter appropriately. In response to this sectarian sedition currently threatening the Muslim world, during his visit to the Shiite center of Najaf, Erdoğan had said, “I am not Sunni or Shiite. I am Muslim.” By this, he neither meant he was against Sunnism nor against Shiism. On the contrary, he had said the sectarian fanaticism, the sedition burning us needs to be overcome.

Nothing could be more natural than Erdoğan, as the period president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), expressing this attitude in such a way. Actually, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries adopting this attitude determinately would bring us closer to the resolution of many problems.


*Yasin Aktay is a member of the Turkish parliament and a leading figure of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) in Turkey.

(Published in Yeni Şafak Turkısh newspaper on June 26,  2017)