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Oct 13, 2014
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Turkish President Erdogan: Turkey Is The Hope Of All Peoples In The Region, We Will Be The Architect Of A New Middle East

#4605 | 10:22
Source: Online Platforms

In an October 13, 2014 speech given at Marmara University, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denounced what he claimed was continued efforts by Western powers to divide the Middle East. He claimed that the hopes of the peoples of the region lie, once again, with Turkey as it was during the days of the Ottoman Empire.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: "Since June, first as Prime Minister, and in the past two months as President, I have been trying to draw attention to the centennial of World War I. I would especially like our universities to place focus on this important war.

[...]

"The Ottoman Empire – that is to say, Istanbul – was at the very center of this war.

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"Why was WWI so important? Why is the centennial of its outbreak so important? It is because this war shaped the Middle East of Today, and, more importantly, was the spark that ignited all the crises and conflicts prevailing in our region today.

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"All the national borders of today in the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East, and North Africa were established on the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. This is very important. Approximately 100 years ago, from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Yemen, from Georgia to Libya, a very large geographical region of the world was ruled from here – from Istanbul, where we stand today.

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"Let me tell you a famous anecdote: The border between two countries in the region has lots of zigzags, even though there is no need for that. I will not go into details, but even today, this border is called 'Churchill’s Hiccup.' I will not mention why, although it is known to our historians [allusion to Churchill’s drunkenness].

"In fact, when you look at the region’s borders, you see that they are drawn in an extremely arbitrary way, and are disconnected from the realities on the ground. For example, the Shiites in the region have been split between countries. Similarly, the Turkmens have been split into separate countries. The Druze in Lebanon, who were very few at the time, have been divided between three countries. The Kurds have also been divided between three different countries, to the point that some villages were split right down the middle. Countries such as Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon were created after WWI and were largely unheard of before.

"Do not misunderstand me – on the centennial of the outbreak of WWI, I’m not going to open up any of these borders for debate. As I have always said, we do not covet the territories of other countries, and we do not seek to meddle in their domestic affairs. As a country, Turkey will continue to defend the territorial integrity of others. However, I must emphasize here that I am an ardent supporter of the absolute and definite need to open up the borders in the hearts and minds of people.

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"If you cannot lift the borders that exist in people’s hearts and minds, it will never be possible to find solutions to the conflicts that have plagued the region for the past 100 years. Let us begin with Iraq. Why are the Shiites and the Sunnis in such a bloody conflict? Let me put it bluntly: The people who drew up this map wanted it this way. Take the Arabs, the Kurds, and the Turkmens. Despite the fact that they all adhere to the same beliefs, values, and culture, why are they in a continuous state of conflict? It is because the people who drew up this map wanted it that way. There is no need to look for any other reason.

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"Will the native peoples of the region continue to act as submissive actors in a play written by those who drew up their borders 100 years ago, in an effort to make them continuously fight one another? When Sunnis and Shiites kill one another by inhumane means, this saddens all Muslims.

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"When Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmens clash with one another, the entire region mourns. But believe me, those who planned these clashes are rejoicing.

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"Thanks to these clashes, others have come in, stuck a hose into the lands of the Middle East, and are siphoning out the oil. But we are the ones who are dying. The blood that is shed is ours. Our children, our sons, and our brothers are the ones who are dying.

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"Do you think that those spending tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in order to bomb the region brought their planes and missiles for the sake of peace? Absolutely not. They are doing it in order to keep the oil wells under their control.

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"Let me say this, without hesitation: When they drew up the borders in the lands of this region, they intentionally and consciously places borders and barriers in the minds of intellectuals, of artists, and especially of the leaders in this region.

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"The Sykes-Picot agreement was not only intended to delineate borders, but to draw [divisive] borders, especially in the mind, and unfortunately, it succeeded in doing so. Let me take it even further. A hundred years ago, there were people who received lots of gold from the Western powers. They revolted against the Ottomans, and committed great treason against this region.

"Dear professors and students, people like this still exist today. A hundred years ago, there were spies in the Arabian desert, aiming to destroy the Ottoman Empire, and they still exist today. Lawrence was an Englishman disguised as an Arab. You all know that well...

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"Even now, both in Turkey and in our region, some people advocate freedom of thought, freedom of the press, the right to independence, or Jihad. These people are fulfilling their assigned duties in implementing the secret Sykes-Picot agreement. Unfortunately, there are people who act as voluntary 'Lawrences' today too.

"Dear professors, 100 years ago, the Ottoman state was able to maintain this entire region in unity and harmony. Now, above all, we need to accept that 100 years later, the Republic of Turkey, by asking the right questions and by taking the right steps, is the only country that can ensure peace and stability in this region. Nobody should doubt this. I say this with no exaggeration: Believe me, Turkey is once again the hope of the whole region. Do not pay attention to any of the leaders or administrations of the region. The hope of the peoples of the region lies with Turkey. They are waiting for Turkey. Not by changing political borders, and not by interfering in the domestic affairs of the other countries, but by asking the right questions, by instilling hope and self-confidence, Turkey can eliminate all the borders in people’s minds and hearts. First and foremost, this will be done by our universities. That is why Turkey, with its 175 universities, must build the mental and intellectual infrastructure of transformation.

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"Our artists, authors, politicians, bureaucrats, and diplomats, after these 100 years, are now the hope of the region for determining the right way forward.

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"As a nation, we should put behind us the feelings of frustration that we have borne since the defeat we suffered in WWI. Allah willing, we will lift the borders drawn by WWI in our hearts and our minds.

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"We must first believe in ourselves, and trust me, many people will follow our beliefs, our hope, and our self-confidence. Allah willing, we shall once again be the architects, the builders, and the restorers of our region, which will be established on peace, tolerance, brotherhood, and cooperation, not on conflict and tension. No one should doubt this."

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