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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Turkey's Role in settling Mideast Conflict

There are many great examples of peace making. All of them required leadership. Not always of a single individual, but always of a vision that switched from pre-programmed default behavior to more universal concepts. All of them involved uniting previously separate people into a more functional whole. Examples are Egypt where the Northern Kingdom was united with the Southern Kingdom creating a peaceful kingdom for more than 3000 years. Hammarubi's Babylon where disparate city states were united and came to be under a uniform civil code which aimed at ending the constant tribal warfare that had been the previous state of human relations. And we have many other examples, including Saladin's defeat of the Crusaders and revival of the middle east

And the successes of the Ottoman Empire, which may have been enabled by Ottoman arms, but were secured by Ottoman justice and relative tolerance of subject people. For example when the Greeks in what had been the Byzantine Empire were forced to choose between "Franks" who came to "help" them by looting and for a time conquering the Byzantine Capital, the Greeks wound up preferring Ottoman rule to Frankish rule. Why? Because the Ottomans were (relatively) more fair than the Roman led Franks. The Ottoman Empire was created through justice and tolerance and foundered on corruption and intolerance.

When the British were contemplating the oil resources in the Middle East, their first thought was to preserve the Turkish Empire. They changed their minds when the Turks sided with the Germans during World War I and because they and the French's greed and hubris overcame any common sense about the long term future of the mideast. We now know that foresight was better than implementation. The best solution for the Middle East would have been to transform the Turkish Empire into something like a commonwealth Union modeled on the British. All this talk about a "Caliphate" would be moot if they'd been able to do this. The Turks already were a "caliphate".

The Brits practiced divide and Rule in creating future nation states instead. Syria, Iraq and Jordan were more lines on a map than divisions respecting the actual people living there. Creating Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states was simply a means to get hold of the oil in the ground in those places or ports. They eschewed a General Government that could respect the needs of all the people in the area to work together and engage in commerce; and that could serve as a place of appeal for problems between local people and each other, ethnic and religious conflict, was eliminated in exchange for nation states that were too small to be universal and too large to be fair to principles of local rule. It is time to correct that gross error. Without a functional general government, with a constitution, basic rights and representation of all parties the mideast has been a chaotic place since. The Sunnis rightfully dream of a Caliphate. The Shia rightfully fear it.

Turkey could play a role in rectifying this. The Turks, the Persians and all the ethnicities that are among them and in Syria and Iraq, should have local rights to elect their own local governors and to representation in local government and in higher orders of organization. The mideast needs it's own Union that respects Mideast History and analogous to the European Union. Turkey could help birth that.

Key is a system that respects local autonomy and that reduces religious power to a local affair. One that provides and governs transportation, infrastructure, ports, trade and mutual self defense to it's members. It should guarantee religious freedom, freedom of speech and similar.

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