The West Asia is changing in a way no one would have imagined, say, a decade ago. Turkey, which was seen as the beacon of ‘progressive’ values in an otherwise regressive part of the world is suddenly taking a brutal about-turn. On the other hand, the otherwise regressive Arab world is taking up much more progressive values, by its standards.
The Arab world is making rapid strides on all fronts including acceptance for Israel, women rights, secular values, peace initiatives and avoiding interference in the internal matters of other countries. Turkey, however, is governed by an Islamist bully in President Erdoğan and has therefore started violating secular values, diluting women rights, curbing democratic tenets and even using proxy militants and mercenaries in its neighbouring States.
With the benefit of hindsight, we can say that Turkey’s sharp regressive turn is rooted in Erdoğan’s fallout with the Western world. Erdoğan faced a failed coup attempt in the year 2016. He blamed the US and the rest of the Western world for the coup attempt and turned into a full-blown Islamist.
In the following years, Erdoğan has tried to challenge the Arab leadership of the Muslim world and has also emerged as a wannabe Khalifa. Turkey is a major disruptor in the region and as per a New York Post report, the MIT, Turkey’s intelligence agency, has been providing resources and material assistance to the ISIS since 2012, under the Turkish President’s directions.
Erdoğan himself has waged wars in Syria and Libya with extensive use of militias and mercenaries that commit some of the most heinous human rights violations. At the same time, he continues antagonising the West with refugee threats.
Within Turkey, Erdoğan is destroying the country’s democratic edifice bit by bit. Last year, the Turkish President’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) disputed the Istanbul mayoral election results because “events” directly affected the electoral outcome. But isn’t a democratic vote always a function of “events” formulating public opinion? Turkish democracy is, therefore, dying under the weight of a wannabe Khalifa.
The Turkish President also plans to impinge upon women rights. “A woman who rejects motherhood, who refrains from being around the house, however successful her working life is, is deficient, is incomplete,” Erdoğan said. He also instructs Turkish women to become baby-making machines and says recommends them to “at least three children.”
For several years, Turkey used to be a friend of the Western world- a NATO ally to be precise. But now it is making enemies in the West and also the democratic world. Erdoğan recently decided to reconvert the ancient Cathedral-turned-Mosque-turned-Museum Hagia Sophia into a Mosque.
Further, Erdoğan has been making a conflict zone out of the Eastern Mediterranean with aggressive moves against Greece and Cyprus.
Moreover, he is also trying to take up the Palestinian cause and Pakistan’s illegitimate claims in Kashmir. Erdoğan wants to become the Messiah of all Muslims, except Uyghur Muslims whom the Turkish President is extraditing to the Chinese concentration camps.
But while a ‘progressive’ Turkey is turning regressive, the Arab world is changing for the better, led by its two leaders- the United Arab Emirates and to some extent Saudi Arabia. Two major geopolitical changes have characterised the changing dynamics in the Gulf- one, the “full normalisation of relations” between the UAE and Israel and two, Saudi Arabia’s brutal snub to Pakistan over the Kashmir issue.
Even at other levels, the Arab world is making a lot of progress. The UAE, for example, is leading the process of diversifying the Middle East economy and moving away from oil dependency. It is investing heavily in the Space sector.
One might argue that the Arabs are still devoid of a democratic structure. But the UAE is clear about it- the Emiratis do not want democracy because they understand that in the Gulf, democracy can easily translate into rule by fundamentalist organisations as it happened with Libya and Egypt.
Now, Dubai is even loosening its alcohol rules to trigger an economic recovery.
Some of the most far-reaching is happening in the UAE. Synagogues, Churches and Temples, the Emiratis are welcoming all religious denominations with open arms. The UAE is turning out to be far more politically incorrect than the West itself.
In 2017 for instance, the UAE Foreign Minister said, “Saudi Arabia is keener to fight terrorism than the… Europeans.” He added, “There will come a day when we see far more radicals, extremists and terrorists coming from Europe because of (a) lack of decision-making, and trying to be politically correct.”
— حسن سجواني 🇦🇪 Hassan Sajwani (@HSajwanization) September 21, 2019
Even other Arab countries like Oman, for example, are showing that liberal values can co-exist in the Arab world. European and American restaurants, acceptance of single women and western traits characterise Oman.
Similarly, Jordan remains one of the most progressive Muslim countries in the world having longstanding ties with Israel. Going ahead even Bahrain is looking to establish ties with Israel showing how the Arab world is coming out of conventional dogmas and anti-Semitism.
One might argue that rights of women in the Arab world are still in the doldrums, but, even in countries like Saudi Arabia changes like allowing women to travel abroad and obtaining a passport without husband’s permission are coming up.
The Middle East is quite different today from what it used to be not a very long ago. The Arab world is taking up the role of liberalising the Middle East and paving the way for a more peaceful and orderly region.