Will 2020 witness a war of civilizations
Although Israel today has developed close relations with several Gulf states and the EU is trying to maintain or improve its relations with China despite US pressure, these are the results of an interest-based understanding of the state. After all, we can say the underlying discourse of all interest-based conflicts—from the Rohingya crisis to the sectarian divisions in Syria, from India’s anti-Muslim, fascist policies, on Kashmir in particular, to Russia’s upheaval in parallel with a new rhetoric of nationalism which highlights Orthodox Christian identity—is the perception of cultural and religious differences as a threat. However, it is necessary to see that the underlying cause of these conflicts is the conflict of economic interests and that cultural diversity is a functional tool to sustain this tension.
When one looks at Turkey through such a lens, one finds it to be one of the countries that are in the most difficult situations. Indeed, Turkey, which connects Asia and Europe, wants to establish good relations with the countries in the east, most of which are its neighbours. However, apart from Iran, none of them are Muslim-majority countries, and the sectarian divide between Iran and Turkey is one of the countries’ irreconcilable differences. Meanwhile, Syria and Iraq have already been failed states for a long time.
Francis Fukuyama’s post-Cold War era book “The End of History and the Last Man,” which made a bold claim that nations no longer have an ideological alternative but human rights, liberal democracy and capitalist, free market values, has failed the test of time. On the other hand, “The Clash of Civilizations,” written as a response by Fukuyama’s teacher Samuel Huntington, who argues that the root of ideological clashes will be cultural and religious differences after the collapse of the Soviet Union, remains relevant.
Turkey, on the other hand, is under pressure from the EU and the US, of which it was once a satellite country. For instance, some issues have pushed Turkey closer to Russia or Iran. When the US imposes sanctions on Iran, which shares land borders and has been Turkey’s trading partner for centuries, Ankara is expected to obey it word for word to the detriment of its own economy. The EU, on the other hand, has put the entire burden of the refugee issue on Turkey, and placed multiple arms embargoes on it due to its military intervention in Syria, as it tried to secure its longest border and protect itself from terrorism.
And, there is the question of Libya, which is one of the most important examples that falsify Huntington’s thesis. In this conflict, Egypt, one of the three largest countries in the Islamic world, is not cooperating with Muslim-majority Turkey, but with Orthodox-majority Greece and Zionist Israel. Also, Saudi Arabia, the Muslim country with the highest symbolic value as it hosts Mecca within its borders, declared Qatar and Turkey its mortal enemies and is pursuing policies that are 100% in line with the US and Israel.
In this respect, 2020 will be a year when tensions will continue to escalate but hopefully not reach a breaking point.