- Muslim nations continue to fail
It would suffice to say that when it comes to making ideological alliances, Muslim countries, bounded by same ethos, have failed to emerge as a unique theologically-motivated bloc. This has been primarily motivated by independent states’ earnest to maximise their sphere of influence by strengthening ties with regional powers and hegemons.
Thus, successively we have failed to aptly address the Palestinian issue and the recent “Jerusalem Test”.
On regional alliances
The recent merciless opening of fire on Palestinians for protesting against the relocation of US embassy to Jerusalem, and the accompanied silence by the Muslim bloc as a cohesive unit, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in particular, the ideological centre for all Muslims – serves as an indication that the humanitarian outcry is subservient to regional alliances that run much deeper.
It’s interesting to note that as a result of these inter-connected series of alliances to which most Muslim countries like Pakistan belong – the vision for the establishment of a borderless Muslim nation hasn’t been realised yet. What further adds to this aberration is the fact that the present-day alliances, engendered to fill the vacuum in Middle East, are founded on using a specific brand of religion to suppress the emergence of counter-brands.
What inhibits the KSA to come to the respite of thousands of suffering Palestinians? What is the cost of such a statement for KSA? The answer to this isn’t easy.
Known as the ‘melting pot of ethnicities’, Middle East as a transcontinental region post 2011 Arab Spring is a global chessboard, a war theatre where competing forces are fighting for domination over the whole of Eurasia. In what can be seen as a series of conflicts for competing interests between the KSA and Iran; the magnitude of unchecked involvement by US-led European coalition and the rise of non-state actors have complicated the equation on which the war was initially calculated. The competition between the two theological rivals remains, however, the dictums on both sides have vastly changed owing to how much the war has expanded and prolonged.
Tracing back Turkey’s stance on strengthening half-hearted diplomatic ties with Iran and Russia it can be criticised that the former is doing the same as any other state would
What appears to be apparent is KSA’s backing and strength through this US-led coalition; whereas China and Russia were initially in support of Iran, supporting Bashar Al Assad’s regime in Syria. Forward a few years and we have global threats like ISIS against world peace, drain on global resources to fight this war and the out-dated narratives that can no longer grasp the complexities associated with the conflicts.
With the equilibrium not shifting on either side, in a desperate show of power, the US went ahead in December 2017 to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and formally relocated its embassy in the city. Thousands of Palestinians protested and the relocation was met with much global resistance, with no concrete statement from the Muslim world. Thus, on the face of it, the Muslim as an entity has failed the Jerusalem Test.
However, not all have failed. Recent events have exhibited that Turkey has risen to the occasion and addressed the grievances faced by the Palestinians, when the Muslims’ ideological qibla, the KSA has appeared to be oblivious. Traditionally known as the secular Muslim country, Turkey is emerging as the central Muslim power while the KSA is forging alliances beyond its traditional practice. Turkey can be seen as tilting towards the Right from the Left, whereas, the KSA is seen as liberalising itself; off from theWahabi zealot it has been a champion of.
At the Organisation of Islamic Conference Summit held at Ankara on 18th May 2018, only a senior foreign ministry official from the host, Saudi Arabia, was present while lower-level ministers from Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE attended the conference.
The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, openly condemned the recent events and called for Muslim solidarity in holding Israel accountable for the mass atrocities it has committed over the years, especially on 14th May 2018. Addressing rallying protestors earlier that day, Erdogan urged the crowds of Muslims to work together when confronted by enemies. Prior to this summit, Turkey had also recalled its envoys to Israel and US as a sign of suspension of diplomatic relations.
Tracing back Turkey’s stance on strengthening half-hearted diplomatic ties with Iran and Russia it can be criticised that the former is doing the same as any other state would. However, Erdogan’s interview on Hardtalk on 14th May 2018 has highlighted the state’s earnest desire to find a regional solution for the Middle East, even if it requires an ideological and geo-strategic compromise by moving forward with Iran and Russia.
This comes as a surprise as Turkey is drastically changing its modus operandi in the region and siding with the states it had been fighting. Erdogan is seeking a solution outside the realm of ‘raising rebels’ to facilitate the Astana process. More statements by the Turkish president have exhibited that the three (Iran, Russia and Turkey) are looking for going beyond a ‘cookie cut model solution’ for which the US-led European coalition, favoured by Saudi Arabia, has been adamant in using.
But in its totality, and the demeanour in which Erdogan addresses these – there are clear signs that the Muslim bloc, if it were to emerge, would be headed by Erdogan himself. How the Muslim world would respond to this sudden change would determine our joint responses for any upcoming Jerusalem Tests.