So who was wrong first?

Published 07.11.2014 23:16
Updated 08.11.2014 01:55

Together with Turkey, France and the U.K. are the two major democratic countries able to understand and decipher the evolutions in the Middle-East. This is obviously due to the fact that both countries ruled the former Middle Eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire for almost 30 years after its collapse. The system, called "mandates" was in fact a harsh protectorate that was barely disguised, to not reject totally the Wilson principles, at least formally.

The former Ottoman provinces were divided into republics in the French dominated areas and into constitutional monarchies in the British area of influence. Out of these political divisions – and the creation of Israel in 1948 – were born a number of nation-states. No real system of cooperation and integration could have been established between these states. Israel was attacked and ostracised at first, then became the major knot of the Middle Eastern problem. Turkey tried to first establish the Sadabad Pact in the aftermath of World War I, then the Bagdad Pact that turned into the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) up until the Iranian Revolution. Both pacts were military alliances and never played any tangible role. After Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt and Syria went into a merger project, called the United Arab Republic. It served basically nothing more than ending a hesitant multi-party system in Syria. The same political movement, the Baath Party, created by Michel Aflaq, ruled both Syria and Iraq without helping the countries establish friendly ties.

The whole region has been very unstable since 1914 and most of the time there has been war. Oil revenues attracted more trouble than they solved and opened more democratic and peaceful perspectives for the region.

When the Syrian population started to protest against Bashar Assad's dictatorial regime, Turkey was at first extremely cautious and spent immense diplomatic efforts to implement a semblance of a political solution. The six-hour long meeting between Assad and then minister of foreign affairs, Ahmet Davutoğlu, is a good illustration of this attitude. The U.S. administration did not believe that Assad's regime was able to be reformed. It probably was not, however Ankara thought afterward that the solution would be elections organized in Syria, which would have allowed Assad an honorable exit. What happened afterward looks more like a nightmare than politics. Turkey heavily insisted that the situation in Syria could not be unblocked so long as Assad remained in power, but Russia and Iran successfully undermine this policy.

Now Laurent Fabius, the French minister of foreign affairs and an experimented politician, has just declared that without targeting the total exit of Assad from Syrian politics, no solution can be implemented. The U.K. said nothing, because the U.K. has basically never opposes U.S. foreign policy publicly since World War II. So now we are back to square one, with 200,000 people killed, 9 million refugees and a totally devastated country, one third of which is under the domination of ISIS.

So who was wrong first? The question can legitimately be asked.

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