The Arab region is experiencing unexpected events, divisions and alliances. However, it spends its energy on petty issues ignoring matters of vital importance such as achieving unity, progress and freedom.
The developments, both before and after the Arab Spring, have created unstable conditions in the region. For instance, the Iraqi government does not want to show an Arab face.
Even at the recent Arab summit, Iraq served as a strong voice of Iran. The Iraqi government led by Nuri Al-Maliki has been in disagreement with the Arab countries on many issues. It is keen on creating a Shiite belt and confronting any party that opposes the country’s drift toward Iran and its monopoly on power. Al-Malki has been acting as Iran’s spokesman that has led to a political showdown with Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The situation hints at the possibility of a brewing confrontation between Turkey and Iran over Syria and Iraq. These are the preliminary indications of the emergence of regional powers in troubled areas especially when the Arab world does not rely on a force that prevents others dominating it. Turkey is a secular country ruled by an Islamist Sunni party. Iran is ruled by a Shiite creed driven by chauvinistic Persian nationalism and is publicly hostile to any Arab project even if it is nationalistic in character.
Our modern Arab history shows that its governing system is based on alliances with the Western capitalists or the diametrically opposed Communist system. Both sides have been serving their interests with diligently followed policies and defined goals while we Arabs have been the losers.
However, in the present situation an unofficial Sunni alliance of Arabs with Turkey has emerged. It is acceptable to most Arabs as it is against the alliance of the Assad and Maliki regimes with Iran.
The Arab national feeling has always been accused of being purely Sunni. It is because the Syrian people, who have been attempting to make a new addition to the Arab Spring, are considered hostile to Alawites, Christians and Kurds who were driven out and deprived of their rights by previous Syrian administrations. The sense of Kurdish nationality has been stronger than the influence of the Sunni school. Iraq desires to divest its Arab character for similar reasons. Moreover, the Iraqi authorities have found that sectarianism is a source of power to monopolize power in the country.
Iran with its alliances is more organized and clear in its goals with its minority claims of Shiites in Arab countries. It has been exporting revolutions targeting all Arab countries where different Sunni schools of thought such as Hanbalis and Hanafis and Shafiis were dominating.
This Iranian practice has awakened a new caution that Iran is looking for a role larger than its size. On the other hand, Turkey is viewing the situation from political and security angles apart from the sectarian angle. The realization of the inevitability of the competition between the two regional powers (Iran and Turkey), the deterioration of the situation in Syria and the concern to create a nucleus of a Kurdish government in northern Iraq drove it to support the right of Sunnis in Iraq and support it as a counterbalance to Iraqi plans with Iranian collaboration.
Meanwhile, international powers are also watching the situation. The West is not concerned with the clash of religious sects, but does not like the emergence of any power that will undermine its interests. Russia and China also see in Iran, Iraq and Syria an opportunity to play a role in the future of the region and dislodging the Western monopoly. On the other hand, our Ummah has been relegated to the role of the chessmen in the hands of players who reap the profits and repeat the division of the sick Ummah’s heritage property.