By Tarek Cherkaoui
- The writer is Manager at TRT World Research Centre and the author of “The News Media at War: The Clash of Western and Arab Networks in the Middle East.” Dr. Cherkaoui is an expert in the field of strategic communications.
ISTANBUL (AA) - It is no secret that the Arab World is at its lowest ebb. The organization in charge of shaping inter-state Arab relations, namely the Arab league, has been a complete fiasco since its establishment in 1945 at the instigation of British colonial officers. The organization failed to prevent or resolve disputes between member states themselves let alone with external forces. Even the Palestinian cause, which is supposed to act as a uniting factor for Arab nations, has been relegated to the margins. As a result, the quasi-majority of Arab summits achieved nothing of consequence.
This state of affairs was a result of the outbreak of the Arab uprisings in 2011, which exposed the dire situation in Arab realms. However, instead of engaging in meaningful reforms and allowing a democratization process to take place, an anti-democracy axis emerged in the region. The latter, primarily represented by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, chose to double down on repression and corruption. This was done by inciting various state and non-state actors and using a wide panoply of overt and covert actions to deteriorate the political environment and prevent pro-democracy forces to prevail.
In parallel, this axis poisoned the public sphere with toxic rhetoric. Such a move intended to mask the retrograde nature of the axis’ political project by creating illusory enemies in the public psyche, such as Qatar and Turkey. In the case of the latter, a demonization campaign was orchestrated to denigrate the country and its leadership in various ways.
One of the key narratives that have been propagated by this coalition is the axis mobilization against the so-called aggression targeting the Arab lands. For instance, in a piece published by Saudi newspaper Okaz on Oct. 26, 2019 entitled “Those who stand with Riyadh will not be disappointed”, the author outlines a "project led by Saudi to preserve the interests of the Arab lands and the Arab-centralized nation-states." A similar theme was used by the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs to criticize Turkey’s “Operation Peace Spring”, describing the operation as a “blatant and unacceptable aggression against the sovereignty of an Arab state” (The National, Oct 13, 2019).
Beyond the shallow nature of these accusations, one is puzzled whether these claims stem from short memory, political hypocrisy, or pure vindictiveness. Many people still remember that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt were the staunchest advocates of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. The latter represents a textbook example of an unjust and direct aggression against an Arab nation, which was conducted using outright lies, deception, and filibustering.
In the same spirit, these regimes did nothing to prevent or even mitigate two aggressions against Gaza (2008-2009), two wars against Lebanon (1982 and 2006). They also prolonged recurrent political unrest in Yemen. Similarly, they never lifted a finger, not even once, to stop the civil war in Sudan, which led to the secession of South Sudan. Likewise, they looked the other way as Somalia regressed into a failed state following the 1991-civil war.
In the post-Arab Spring era, the anti-democracy axis became directly involved in aggressions against various nations. They unjustifiably blockaded Qatar, spread chaos in Syria, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen, undermining the sovereignty of these countries, bombarding civilians , and supporting terrorist groups (e.g. PKK/YPG in Syria, Al Qaeda in Yemen) . In a similar fashion, media reports suggest that the Saudis played a lead role in financing  the Daesh terror group, whose leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was recently killed in a U.S. raid (Oct. 27, 2019).
When it comes to the Palestinian cause, these regimes became middlemen for the so-called “deal of the century.” They played a lead role in attempting to bribe  and coerce the Palestinians to accept such a scam, which was rightly labelled by some pundits as the “slap of the century”. Meanwhile, some UAE-affiliated individuals and organizations went to the extent of buying properties in East Jerusalem and sell them  to Israeli settlers to weaken the Palestinian rights in the holy city.
It is evident that the anti-democracy axis has lost its legal and moral compass. These regimes have a long list of “skeletons in their closet”, and their track record reveals no interest whatsoever in the preservation of Arab lands or the sovereignty of Arab nation-states.
For its part, Turkey has done more for the Arab people in their troubles than all these regimes put together. Turkey has been hosting 3.5 million refugees from Syria at a time when simple visas were denied by the Saudis and Emiratis to Syrian businessmen and professionals. Ankara is also assisting the UN-backed government in Libya, while also offering considerable support in the reconstruction of Somalia. Moreover, Ankara gave Iraq a vital economic lifeline after the 2003 invasion and provided development and humanitarian assistance to Sudan, especially in Darfur. Meanwhile, Turkey was one of the most vocal detractors of the “deal of the century”, exposing its fallacies in international and regional gatherings.
In short, Turkey is a natural ally of the Arab world. It is a force for good in a troubled and dangerous world, and the mentioned examples illustrate Ankara’s value-driven foreign policy. Therefore, the axis’ lies and faulty narratives fool no one. As the proverb goes, it is futile to “try to hide the sun with a sieve”.
* Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.