This opinion piece appeared today in our English language daily, Hürriyet Daily News:
Anti-Turkish sentiment among Saudi Arabia’s rulers has reached such a peak that they recently banned Turkish TV series. The cost of the broadcast deals for the six series is said to be around $50 million, but still the Saudi authorities removed them from their TV channels.
The way of life represented in those series must have been perceived as “too modern” for Saudi Arabia. After all, the Saudis present allowing women to drive as a “reform” and “moderation” to the world!
The political moves are even more remarkable.
Speaking to journalists in Egypt, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman reportedly referred to Turkey, Iran and Qatar as an “axis of evil.” He also opted to lash out at “the Ottomans.”
Saudi Arabia was perhaps the key sponsor of the 2013 military coup in Egypt, transferring $5 billion to the putschists overnight after the takeover was complete. That was the same amount as the Muslim Brotherhood had [requested] from the International Monetary Fund.
The Ankara government condemned the coup in Egypt and took a stance against Egypt on every possible subsequent occasion. As a result, Egypt is today fertile ground for criticizing Turkey.
[However] By looking at all these events and incidents, we should not slip into thinking “the Arabs are our enemies.” Such a mindset would make it difficult for us to develop any healthy relationships with Arab countries.
Contrary to popular belief, the founders of the Republic of Turkey did not turn their back on the Arabs. They did not interfere in their affairs but focused on developing good relations with them. Atatürk hosted King Abdullah*, the son of Sharif Hussein.
Both history and the present day advise us to develop equal diplomatic and economic relations without taking sides in the internal feuds of the Arabs, and without evoking any reference to the Ottomans.
- King Abdullah’s Arab revolt against the Ottoman government in 1916 was encouraged by the British government. His struggle for Arab independence, however, turned them against him, and he was overthrown by the ibn Saud family, with British support.
- Moral of the story: Don’t put your trust in imperialists.