The Revenge Of Middle East’s 100 Years

We are currently living World War I’s 100th anniversary.  Calendar dates could be symbols for historical statements. Especially 50th or 100th steps facilitate some evaluations, self-criticisms, indictments and etc. But the common points generally include taking lessons from these events. Surely, aforementioned handles also contain subjectivities. States’ official histories are determined by hegemon ideological, political cultural grounds.

Historical turmoils serve us to understand modern political processes in the Middle East. However linear method is not useful to perceive the general framework. Dialectic  analysis can be seen a more rational approach to reach more robust conclusions. To conceive the modern Middle East, 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement would be a top reference. Besides the situation, British-Russian and French policies to the Middle East in the last quarter of the 19th Century may be accepted the origin point in the context of the “Eastern Question” which they had built. The region was earlier named by UK as the “Near East.” After it was indicated as the “Middle East” and gained importance with transit ways, in the early 20th century it got the strategic level with the discovery of  oil.  After the founding of her own territorial integrity, Germany’s rapproachement with the Ottomans adopted a peaceful policy that could be labeled as “Ostpolitik,” the “Eastern Policy”. Haydarpasa-Baghdad railway and many investments were the outcome of German-Ottoman alliance in this period. Goltz’s “Das Volk in Waffen” (A Nation in Arms) was lectured in War Academy of Ottomans and War Academy of German Republic which constructed “military nation” in Union and Progress (İttihat Terakki) era and in the early Republic. (Colmar Goltz, Freiherr von der; Millet-i Müselleha, Harp Akademileri Basımevi, İstanbul, 1970) (First publish in 1885) Political elite adressed many issues from Ottoman’s declining to the threats against to the Republic on this base.

Indispensibly, Ottoman’s modernizing process concluded with fragmentation toward nation-states. But the main exception was the Middle East. According to Prof.İlber Ortaylı, the Balkans was the resource of the raw material for Austrian-Hungarian empire. So trade bourgeois and national church demands raised in the region. As well as the socio-economic infrastructure, French revolution’s late effect, global powers’ influence determined the new nation-states. However, in the Middle East region that did not relate with the institutional and administrative modernism, Sykes-Picot agreement and San Remo Conference divided the region into the mandates. As mentioned, mandates were not designated on the accumulation of the modernism, but British oil companies designated them on the energy resources and routes.

Naturally, attributes to the Middle East in Ottoman politics mirrored a similar understanding of the situation in the ruling party’s Ottomanist approaches.  In the post Ottoman era, previous princedoms and kingdoms turned into the new nation-states. However, great powers founded mandates in the Middle East. While new states are disintegrating now, is the new Ottomanism question an utopia? Here, we have some clues in AKP’s and Israel’s support to Iraq Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) related to Middle East’s modernizing process. KRG, as a modernised structure, is becoming the new nation state, not to be a part of so called Islamist-Sunni Middle East federation. The biggest problem, here, is signified by the Afghanistanisation of the Region, following, the so-called “Arab Spring” with prospects of destroying the states’ existence, thus, triggering seperations on secterian grounds.

Syria-Iraq region, currently called as “Syriaq” by the Western resources, is in large part under the occupation of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in the region. ISIS changed its name as “Islamic State” and announced caliphate after 90 years. This move cuased the Selefist terror organisation to forget the “Iranian threat”.  Even Ruhani-Zarif administration tries to have common points against to ISIS with the West.

Kurdish entity is becoming the new nation state, on the other hand ISIS is becoming the new entity. According to the Turkish media, ISIS  has 5 thousand militants from Turkey’s suburbs such as Gungoren, Bagcilar in Istanbul or Hacibayram in Ankara.  The Middle East is being imported to Turkey. In this context Turkey can not control the Middle East, but the global Islamist streams are creating the ideologic Islamist fundamentalist tutelage in Turkey. The Middle East became Turkey’s domestic problem. Turkey as one of the founder of the European Council is living a Middle Easternization process.

The winner is not democracy in the Middle East but unfortunately sectarian and religious fanatism, and non-state structures are eliminating the modernist base .  US is looking forward to the Pacific while the Middle East is getting a grave after colonialism.


And democracy remain the real the target of religious fundamentalist advances in the region.

About Deniz Tansi

Yeditepe University Economic and Administrative Sciences Faculty Public Administration Department