Tuesday, 13 September 2011


(The headline is meant to be 'wait a moment' but it barely works...)

Now here's an interesting story which might not receive the coverage it deserves [I have tried to insert a link but it appears to not want to play today so check out the Independent for more on this]. It seems that Turkey is promoting itself as the leader of the Arab world.

Turkey is of course the home of the former Ottoman Empire and has managed to reinvent itself as a moderate, democratic state - not without much difficulty but still with considerable success. The fact that Turkey is not in the EU has been a source of disappointment to many but it may turn out to have been a good decision all along if this country can develop its role in the region. Turkey is an obvious choice as regional leader and the country's potential new role puts the lie to the idiocies of people like the 'Middle East Peace Envoy' - may his apples rot on the tree - who insist that we must fear Islam and the millions of terrorists it is supposed to produce.

This possible new approach of leadership and active support is not to ignore Turkey's less than perfect human rights record or the continued but ever more muted rumblings from the military. Turkey is no paragon but the country is ideally suited for this role in terms of its location, its proximity to Europe, its history and its previously strong relationship with Israel.

Comes the hour, comes the country which has been through all this aggravation and could be just what is needed to guide Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria to stability, peace and democracy.

I am having one of my dreams again, the futile ones which rely on common sense rather than realpolitik. In my dream, the USA will butt out and leave Turkey to gently develop this role, recognising that it could transform the region and usher in a period of democratic change across a number of states the like of which we have never seen. In my dream European countries - most notably Germany but also Britain and France - fully support Turkey and accept the country's leadership role, offering financial support as required and rewarding Turkey with greater economic engagement in Europe, benefiting both sides. In my dream Israel will recognise that its position is untenable as long as it seeks to challenge and confront its neighbours and that the only long term future for the country is through active, positive engagement now, which includes an end to illegal colony building as well as an acceptance that Turkey has for years been a solid ally of Israel and it can now be the conduit for this rapprochement between Israel and other countries.

It is an amazing thought that we might look forward to a democratic, economically engaged Middle East region within a relatively short period of time - a region which has transformed itself, rather than being changed from without by clever politicians with little understanding of the complexities involved.

Some dream, huh?

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