Like a fine Persian carpet, the Middle Eastern peoples are an intricate weave of communities, joined together in beautiful distinctive of interlocking language, religion, and communities, established over time, and sustained by a provident grace from age to age. In the early 20th century, foreigners visited a Great War of conquest on our lands, dissolving centuries of community and disrupting this rich brocade with artificial divisions which they contrived among themselves in secret before the guns had gone silent, in a plan to exploit the resources which they themselves coveted. I refer, of course, to the Sykes-Picot Treaty of May, 1915, in which the British, the French, and Russia cooperated to divide the Ottoman lands.
A style of Turkish diplomacy that involves playing on the front foot would be to their advantage, and to the advantage of everyone they interact with.Ceylan Ozbudak
Borders in the Middle East are becoming more and more fluid every day as a result of the Arab Spring – difficult to believe but this process did have some results – and the current public discourse is focusing on trying to maintain these borders. I hear and read many analysts saying Turkey has a role in maintaining these borders and the safety of the regimes within those borders but frankly, Turks had nothing to do with the Sykes-Picot order and couldn’t care less about maintaining it. It’s not our duty to uphold an order drawn by Europeans for the Middle East and we don’t think it’s beneficial to keep divisions between people and groups which didn’t exist before. Rather than viewing the Middle East through a political prism, we in Turkey prefer rather a geographical map; marking the influential groups, sects, tribes and schools of thought which have prevailed for centuries in this place.