The latest developments in the Middle East indicate that the tension in the region is escalating to the utmost of the recent years. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey is also a part of this tension. In other words, Khashoggi was not “accidentally” killed in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul. The Saudi diplomatic authorities in the USA to whom Khashoggi applied for issuance of certificates for a marriage redirected him to the consulate in Istanbul where a death squad from Saudi Arabia captured, questioned and murdered him, chopped and cleared away his body.
Moreover, Turkey’s AKP government is positioning the country in the very center of the tension in the Middle East, importing the regional conflict embodied in the murder. All the developments refer to this fact.
THE TWO FACES OF THE SAUDIS
The power change followed by an extensive purge of decadents and potential opponents in Saudi Arabia also implies a change in “military and political doctrine” of this country. The traditional policy that considered Israel as the main threat to Islam and the Saudi Reign is now replaced with a new one which points to the Shia (led by Iran) as the major antagonist. This change did not only relieve Israel but also did it escalate the regional Shia-Sunni tension into a highly dangerous conflict.
This new orientation of the Saudis has full support of the USA. Not hesitating to openly declare that they sell 110 billion dollars’ worth of arms to Saudi Arabia yearly and that it is a great source of income for the US, the Trump administration is actually enjoying the best of both worlds: It is not only the huge amount of money made from arms deals with the Saudis. This new state of affairs of the region, especially with its potential to turn into an actual armed conflict, might well create an opportunity for imperialism to loot the rich oil and gas resources of Iran which long since whet their appetite.
WHAT DOES THE MURDER OF KHASHOGGI MEAN?
Choosing Istanbul as the place to kill Jamal Khassoggi was not simply a “matter of geography” but it was a message, even a menace to Turkey which was in good relations with the former Saudi regime. Because the Tayyip Erdogan administration maintained its pro-Ikhwan stance and conduct together with Qatar, another ally of the former Saudi rulers. Furthermore, Jamal Kashoggi carried out activities under Qatar and US protection as one of the agents of the former Saudi regime’s intelligence service.
It is needless to say that anyone acting such openly against the US interests would become a target. On the other hand, the fact they chose Istanbul to murder him clearly shows that it was not only an intimidation to Saudi opponents but also was it a defiance of Qatar and its close ally, Turkey.
WHERE IS THE AKP GOVERNMENT DRAGGING TURKEY INTO?
Never throughout the republic period has Turkey been so closely interested and engaged in the politics of the region of Middle East and North Africa which was once ruled by the Ottoman Empire until it was shared by imperialist states after WW1. It was also a subject of conflict and division during the Second Imperialist War.
Turkey kept out of the Second Imperialist War and did not have an eye on gaining advantage and benefits out of the disastrous wars and consequent tragedy and sufferings of the peoples of the region. Nobody in Turkey had “Neo-Ottoman” dreams during WW2.
However, the AKP government, since the very beginning, has been fantasizing of becoming a regional power, through a “Neo-Ottoman” discourse, and exploiting the regional conflicts to secure areas of dominance. What is worse, they are not only fantasizing but also involving Turkey in every bloody development and conflict in the region in their attempts to realize their fantasy.
Because of the AKP policies, thousands of jihadists and ISIS militants have crowded into Turkey where they can carry out activities freely. They have killed hundreds of citizens in suicide attacks and they are not likely to stop.
The AKP’s irresponsible policies along with their view of refugees as a useful tool for the “Neo-Ottoman” fantasy has brought up a new problem: as never seen before in our history, hate and hostility against refugees, especially the Syrian, has emerged and is becoming widespread.
Moreover, Turkey’s involvement in the region’s ominous conflicts has deepened any kind of domestic polarizations. All tensions and conflicts in the Middle East are now re-echoing in domestic politics: Turks and Kurds, Sunnis and Alawis, religionists and secularists are becoming more and more polarized and growing hostility to each other. Any possible conflict in the Middle East can easily be imported into Turkey as a domestic conflict. The stage is well set for any provocation.
CAN THE “NEO-OTTOMAN” FANTASY COME TRUE?
No. The “Neo-Ottoman” fantasy over which the AKP dragged Turkey into a disaster is impossible to come true. In other words, Turkey becoming a regional power, securing domains or expanding into the region is not an earth chance. If anything, Turkey itself has turned into a colony under the AKP regime.
Turkey’s economy has fallen under the domination of imperialist financial institutions with all its key sectors controlled by foreign corporations. With the huge, unsustainable debt burden, the AKP government is now going from door to door begging for new high-interest-rate loans and making new concessions.
They play up to Russia one day, and the USA the next day, Britain or Germany the other day. They arrest a journalist or a pastor accusing them for being “spies” and upon the economic sanctions from Germany or USA, they immediately release those “spies”.
Can a country which is itself a colony turned into a “whipping boy” in its foreign policy possibly colonize others? Surely not!
It is as obvious that the AKP government has handed over the last piece of land remaining from Ottoman land to imperialism, let alone revive the Ottoman Empire. Their Islamist and nationalist discourse of “Neo-Ottoman” is nothing but a cover-up for their corruption and crimes. Even worse, this discourse further deepens the ethnic and religious/sectarian polarization.
In this respect, the AKP regime must be overthrown in Turkey and so must be the reactionary dictatorships and imperialism in the Middle East.
HISTORICAL TASK OF WORKERS
From the workers’ point of view, it seems evident that neither end of the current polarization is an option for the working class to be a party to. No regime in the region can possibly play a progressive role. Calling the working class for supporting any regime in the region, whether openly or “for conjunctural reasons”, has nothing to do with a revolutionary perspective to emancipate the workers and the oppressed from the ongoing infernal conditions.
And yet, what is to be done?
The answer to this question reveals itself in the recent workers struggles despite the heavy oppression. The fight is uniting workers.
The workers building Istanbul’s new Airport recently rose all together against the inhumane working conditions, some of them were arrested and jailed but fighting shoulder to shoulder against the bosses they did not ask one another about their ethnic origin or religious views.
The struggle of Flormar workers is witnessing Muslim women workers in their headscarves sharing the frontline with their fellow workers. None of them are interested in who is religious or secular, who is Kurd or Turk, Alewi or Sunni. Besides, the police of the “Muslim” AKP regime is not hesitating to attack headscarfed Muslim women when it comes to class struggle.
Therefore, the oppressed peoples of the Middle East must stand up against imperialism that divides, polarizes and sets one another the working class and the poor. They must also face the oppressive regimes and opportunist interventions of other countries. In short, they should unite around a clear revolutionary program and an organization without borders. An International is most essential in for the Middle East, for the Middle Eastern workers and revolutionaries.
No organization, no alliance and no program that is not proletarian can lead us to salvation. No organization or movement that does not shoot for uniting the workers against the capitalist regimes of the region can really fight against imperialism.
Internationalism is an absolute must in the Middle East.
It is that simple, yet, the question is whether our current reality match what we are saying? To our regret, international revolutionary organizations in the region are quite weak, in some countries there are not even cores of an international organization. Indeed, the situation is this bad. However, we shall not stop stressing this absolute must and postpone upholding a revolutionary program for our region.
We are aware that today we are as little as a drop in the sea and we also know that the sea would not exist without the drops. The revolutionaries of the Middle East must consolidate the working class of different ethnic, religious, sectarian origins under the flag of unified struggle. There is no other way out of the hell. Therefore, we will tirelessly keep saying the truth aloud and advocate revolutionary program with a view to turn the drops into a sea.
This is our very task.