On the sidelines of an emerging Arab unity starting in 1956 with the seizing of the Suez Canal by Egypt, non-Arab Muslim countries Iran, Pakistan and Turkey had established the RCD (Regional Cooperation for Development) in 1964. At that time all three RCD members, along with the UK, had belonged to the CENTO (Central Treaty Organization) or the Baghdad Pact formed in 1955 and which was subsequently officially dissolved on the heels of the Iranian revolution in 1979.
Iraq had officially pulled out of CENTO in 1959 following the revolution by Abdul Karim Qassem who overthrew the monarchy in 1958. Gemal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, an Arab nationalist subscribing to growing Soviet influence in the Arab world was a sharp contrast to Iran’s Reza Shah Pehlavi, Pakistan’s Ayub Khan and Turkey’s Suleiman Demirel who were all pro-west and with the exception of Pakistan had diplomatic relations with Israel. CENTO’s goal was to contain Soviet Communist expansion whereas Egypt was strongly promoting Soviet influence along with Syria, Iraq and Jordan.
The entire balance of power in the Middle East started shifting drastically with four critically important events. The first, the Iranian Revolution of 11th February 1979, created a dent in the western agenda of hegemony which still continues to haunt the western powers. The second, the decline of Communism and the end of Soviet expansion completed in 1991 provided a boost to the western powers to pursue their agenda. The third, Pakistan’s declaration of being a nuclear power in 1998, once again created a dent in the pursuit of hegemony. But not easily giving up, the fourth event, was masterfully connived by the western powers and the Zionist regime of Israel on the 11th of September 2001, the war on terror leading up to the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and the subsequent goal to denuclearize Pakistan. The Soviet threat was replaced by a Muslim threat. If a major imperialist power could be contained, Muslims were perceived to be child’s play. The only thing was to ensure they remain divided.
Two of the four events were spontaneous but the two others, decline of communism and Pakistan’s nuclear entry were time build-up events. The fifth, a spontaneous event, took place on 31st May 2010, the strategic mistake of Israel attacking and killing unarmed civilians on the Mavi Marmara. Turkey, who thus far was a staunch ally of Israel, member of NATO, a country long denied the EU membership (fortunately), a strong western partner and with no ties to Arabs has woken up. In the wake of this event, the US, UK, France and Israel have made no attempts to appease Turkey who is seething and boiling. Turkey is further injured by the latest UN sanctions slapped on Iran. Turkey and Brazil tried to defuse the Iranian nuclear showdown; they’ve failed in the face of US-Israel determination to punish Iran for no reason. Turkey is now wide awake to imperialist designs. Turkey has begun to woo the Arabs.
Arab nations burst into standing applauses as Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan walked to a podium at the Istanbul summit on 10 June. This author does not see Turkey, along with Iran, turning back on its determination to push forward for a political and diplomatic unity among Muslims and some other countries like Brazil. The headlines on the Halifax Metronews read “Arab nations cheer Turkey for tough stance on Israel; Turkish PM criticizes new Iran sanctions”. (http://www.metronews.ca/halifax/world/article/547274–turkey-is-hosting-arab-league-chief-arab-foreign-ministers-in-forum).
Erdogan had tough but true words “Arms, embargoes and exclusion are not working,” adding that “the world was paying a heavy price as a result of such policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are hundreds of thousands of widows, who will account for this? There are orphans, who will account for this? Those who turn this geography into this (mess) have to be held accountable”.
Israeli arrogance and the US support for Israel may well prove to be Israel’s Achilles heel. This alliance is probably in its infancy and if Pakistan the one country that can make a big difference joins the bandwagon, the US-NATO will have to rethink their hegemony strategy. Pakistan is taking a severe whipping at western hands as a result of shifting the war on terror from outside its borders to within its borders and its economy is in dire straits; it is a nuclear power waiting to be stripped. Pakistan clearly has two choices. The first, if it wants to be a winner then it must immediately start negotiations with the “terrorists” and stop the killings of its citizens ; join Turkey, Iran and the Arabs in condemning the Israelis and their western supporters; turn the tables on US-NATO alliance and cease all military operations in the tribal belt. The second, if it wants to be a loser, continue to lick US-NATO boots and eventually allow itself to be stripped. Israel’s Strategic Error: A New Alliance And A Turning Point? By Gulam Mitha