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The Sultans’ Grandson Envies the Descendant of the Tsars

The Sultans’ Grandson Envies the Descendant of the Tsars

Monday, 1 August, 2022 - 09:30
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Time is cruel. It brings down empires without blinking an eyelid. One lifetime is not enough to fight many wars. How difficult it is to piece together torn novels! The hardest part of the journey is the change of roles and colors and the mixing of friends with enemies.

He looked out of the window. The Bosporus looked gloomy with its empty boats. He is unable to quit Istanbul. He grew up on the calls of its street vendors and the flavors of sadness in its squares. He was seduced by the charming roundabout, and almost turned into a professional football player, but he quickly assigned himself to a more difficult task.

He would follow in Necmettin Erbakan’s footsteps, until he could become a leader in his own right. In those streets, he believed that the world had punished Istanbul long enough. It had trimmed its nails and broken its soul. He believed it had tried to alter the city's identity and that it had awaited him to set it free.

Since returning from the last Tehran summit, he would be overwhelmed by a degree of bitterness whenever he tried to predict the future or recall the past.

He has no particular problem with Ibrahim Raisi. He had no problem with his predecessors. There is no ambiguity in Tehran. The president is elected to follow the supreme guide and implement his policies.

The president is not a partner. He can neither object nor rebel. The most important meeting in Tehran is with the guide. One must always turn to him to avoid making miscalculations.

He is not seeking a confrontation with Iran. He wants to coexist with it and synchronize the dance, no matter how difficult it is. His position is clear. He looks forward to expanding trade exchange and deepening cooperation on the basis of mutual interests. He also wants to increase consultation on regional politics and security concerns.

But the Tehran summit doubled his sensitivities. Iran opposes Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish militants inside Syrian territory. It believes such a move will destabilize and weaken the Syrian regime.

He feels a sense of injustice. Why does Iran have the right to be the obligatory path to form a new government in Baghdad and Beirut? Why must it have hegemony over Damascus’ decisions? Why must it be the instigator and inspiration for those in power in Sanaa?

Why is Iran allowed all of this while Turkey does not have the right to repel dangers on its borders?

Does Iran have the right to seize the seals of Arab capitals, change their policies, choices, locations and composition, while Turkey does not have the right to chase down the PKK inside Iraqi and Syrian territories?

Why does any Turkish move provoke the Arab League, which has been coexisting for decades with Iranian expansion in Arab veins?

At the Tehran summit, he stared for a long time at the master of the Kremlin. He asked himself if he had been deceived by this man, who hid behind his terse smile wild lusts. Vladimir Putin confuses him.

Was Ukraine really such a threat to Russia’s security that he had to launch a war that has so far produced millions of refugees and shaken the stability and economy of the world?

Is this war the whole story or is it a first leg in an international conflict that will be divided into stages and fought with cannons, missiles, gas and wheat? Can Putin be considered a genius, who made defeat the only option for the West in Ukraine, or can he be seen as a gambler, who refused to obey the United States, but then bowed to China?

What if the weakening of Europe and the bleeding of the Russian economy led to the birth of a bipolar world, that is, America and China, and pushed Russia to a position similar to that of India?

He feels victimized again. The Russian army annexes large parts of Ukraine, while Moscow mocks the Turkish army with a restricted green light for a limited operation that distances the “Kurdish danger” from its borders.

How does Russia have the right to be deployed in Syria, and to send its mercenaries to Libya, Central Africa and Mali, while Turkey does not have the right to deploy its soldiers on the Syrian side of the joint border?

Quarreling with the Americans was easier, so was annoying the NATO leadership. Putin imposes the rules of the game. He only agreed to forget about the shooting down of the Russian jet after an apology and Turkey’s joining of the Astana process and introducing of Russian missiles to the Turkish military in NATO.

He saved Bashar al-Assad and continued to shrink opposition strongholds under so-called reconciliations. He refrained from pushing Assad and Tehran into accepting anything serious related to the political solution.

Turkey used to complain about the former world order. Erdogan’s Turkey does not like the world of the American policeman. It also rejects the western model and would rather not linger on its balconies.

It doesn’t acknowledge the Europeans’ demand to change its skin and parts of its soul so that it could join their club. Turkey sent messages of rebellion against the world that existed.

Turkey tried to launch a major coup in the region. It was banking on the “Arab Spring” and those who rushed to hijack it, but the failure was resounding.

The world did not recognize Turkey’s right to forcibly reside on the maps of others, while its objection to the Iranian push in the region did not prompt it to action to reverse the course of events.

Drowsiness takes over Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He falls asleep, but hears a man reading a book. Do not believe what the wise say. The wounds of history never heal. Time is not a clinic to treat the wounded. It is a dark cave that multiplies their hatred and their desire to settle scores at the first opportunity. The world does not give you a certificate of good conduct unless you accept defeat.

The current map is tight. It’s a prison with internationally-recognized borders. A modest map that does not accommodate a colossal history. A golden cage that only hosts the ashes of big dreams. They want you to accept the map that was born of defeats and setbacks. You go to the elections and cede the place to someone else. As if they want to put the maps in the custody of employees.

Employee are usually hostages of official working hours, their salary and the mood of their boss. But why does the world allow the descendant of the Tsars to recover the property of his ancestors, while it does not grant this same privilege to the grandson of the sultans?!

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