The arrival of the Justice and Development Party, headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to power in Turkey in 2002 was a non-routine event due to the developments that followed in Turkey and the region in general.
The party’s approach carried a sharp ethnic polarization, denied other identities, especially the Kurdish one, and sought to liquidate them politically and militarily, in addition to an unprecedented deep sectarian congestion.
The leaders of this party have worked from the beginning to evoke history and play on the feelings of the people, especially Arabs and Muslims.
In 2003, after coming to power, Abdullah Gul said in an interview with a Turkish newspaper, “The creation of Turkey within Anatolia and its imprisonment there is unthinkable. Turkey's full borders are not official borders. Turkey's influence and interests go beyond its borders.”
When Gul was asked: Is this a new Ottoman? He said, "Describe it as you wish because the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia are regions that closely concern us, and Turkey cannot be locked into Anatolia.”
For his part, former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on November 24, 2009: “We have a legacy left over the Ottoman era. They say new Ottoman, yes we are new Ottomans. We have to take care of the countries of our region as well as the countries of North Africa.”
Through these statements, AKP officials were passing on historical messages and terms, such as the Millî Pact.
On the issue of granting Turkish citizenship to Syrian refugees, Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu said in January 2019, “They came from the lands of the Millî Pact borders,” considering that this is a reason that entitles them to become Turkish.
What is the Millî Pact?
The Ottoman Empire incurred heavy losses by the "Allied Forces" during the First World War, and was forced to sign the Armistice of "Mudros" on the 30th of October 1918 AD, then the Greek forces invaded western Anatolia in May 1919 AD, and the Turkish military commander, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk announced launching the "Liberation War", on the 19th of May 1919.
In January 1920, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk ordered the convening of the Ottoman Parliament, known as the “Council of the Two Envoys,” and the Council convened on the 28th of the same month, and that was its last meeting, and it ended with the announcement of the “Millî Pact,” which served as a demarcation document of the new borders of Turkey, so that the "war of independence" is being waged for the sake of its approval and imposition.
After a series of conferences and meetings, the Ottoman Parliament approved the “Millî Charter” in 1920 as a document “demarcating new borders for Turkey” after the fall of the Ottoman Sultanate. This pact consists of six principles: the future of the Ottoman Empire's territories that were controlled by the allies, which had an Arab majority at a time when the "Mudros" agreement was signed, which will be determined by referendum. As for the areas that were not subjected to control by the allies "upon signing the agreement" and which are inhabited by a majority of Turkish Muslims, they are considered the homeland of the Turkish nation as "the status of Kars, Ardakhan, Batumi also will be determined by the referendum; however, the "status of Western Thrace" will be determined by its population.
According to this, the charter includes present-day Turkey and all of northern Syria from Iskenderun, Idlib, and Aleppo to the Euphrates and Deir Ezzor, and then to Iraq, Mosul and Kurdistan.
The allies rejected the "Millî Pact" outright, considering it a denial of the defeat the Ottoman Empire had suffered in the war.
In the summer of 1920 AD, the Greek forces began to launch large-scale offensive operations in an attempt to advance deep into Anatolia. Simultaneously, on the 10th of August 1920 AD, the Allies imposed on the Ottoman government to sign the "Treaty of Sèvres", which restricted the borders of the proposed Turkish state to an area less than half the size of Anatolia.
Ataturk refused to recognize the treaty, and declared that he did not recognize the Ottoman government that had signed it, accusing it of betraying the "Millî Pact", and forming a new government in Ankara, followed by the start of advances on the Western front and an open confrontation with Greek forces, to end the Turkish-Greek war in October 1922 by the victory of the Turkish army.
After that, the Ankara government gained international recognition, and was invited to peace negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne in November 1922.
In the first round of negotiations, Ismet Inönü, the chief of the General Staff of the Turkish army at the time, demanded approval of the terms of the "Millî Pact", which was completely rejected by the negotiators representing the allies (France, Britain, Italy, and Greece). Then the second round of negotiations began in April 1923 AD, which ended with the signing of the "Lausanne Agreement", on the 24th of July 1923 AD, according to which the entire Anatolia was granted to the new Turkish state, in exchange for Turkish recognition of the borders of the states independent of the Ottoman Empire, including the two Arab countries, Syria and Iraq, and their borders known today. Thus, the Treaty of Lausanne did not recognize the claims of the Millî Pact in the two Arab states.
Now the AKP, headed by Erdogan, is trying to return to the region, follow in the footsteps of his ancestors, and search for their legacy.
Syria ... Occupation and identity change
In Syria, the Turkish occupation took advantage of the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in the spring of 2011, as it worked to support militant groups at the expense of the national opposition, to later turn into mercenaries for Turkey, raising its flags and glorifying its symbols as if they were Turkish.
Turkish state officials promoted terms and names that were intended to impose their presence in the region, such as the "safe zone", the Euphrates Shield, and others.
The Turkish occupation worked to establish its presence in Idlib and Aleppo, and tried to expand in northern Syria in general, but on its way it encountered the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are against the division of Syria, as happened in the Iskenderun Brigade.
Turkish state’s officials did not leave a single opportunity to recall the history of their ancestors in Syria, and on August 8th, 2011, Erdogan, who was prime minister, said: “Syria is not an external issue, but we see it as an internal Turkish issue.”
On July 15th, 2012, Erdogan said: “They ask us about the reasons for our preoccupation with Syria; the answer is very simple because we are a country founded on the rest of the Ottoman Empire. We are the descendants of the Seljuks, we are the descendants of the Ottomans, and we are throughout history the descendants of our ancestors who struggled.”
On January 11, 2018, Erdogan said: “Northern Syria was within the boundaries of the Millî Pact…”
On September 16, 2018, a day before the Sochi Agreement, Erdogan said: “We do not recognize the Syrian regime and we do not recognize the Syrian state. If some forces say they are in Syria at the regime’s invitation, then we are there at the invitation of the Syrian people. In Idlib, people do not raise Russian nor American flags, but rather Turkish flags.”
The Turkish occupation made the date for the start of its attacks on Jarablus, al-Bab and Azaz on August 24th, 2016, which is the date of the Marj Dabiq battle between Sultan Selim I and Qansu al-Ghuri, the leader of the Mamluks, during which the Ottomans entered the Arab East, North Africa and Egypt. A month after these attacks, a new term began to appear outside the neo-Ottoman, which is the term Misak-ı Millî..
During the past years, the Turkish occupation and its Syrian mercenaries have implemented a number of measures aimed at changing the identity of the occupied Syrian areas, such as Jarablus, Al-Bab, Azaz, Afrin, Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî.
Among these measures is the so-called Interim Government and its affiliated councils announcement at an earlier time that they are preparing to issue identity cards, in a dangerous step that threatens the Syrian national identity.
It also changed the demographics of these areas by deporting their original inhabitants, and settling thousands of mercenaries and their families, especially Turkmen, in addition to raising Turkish flags, and imposing circulation in Turkish currency instead of the Syrian.
In the last step to strike the foundations and identity of the Syrian state, the President of the Turkish occupation state, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, issued a presidential decree to open an institute and college affiliated with a Turkish university in the occupied Syrian areas.
On this, the Secretary-General of the Syrian Change and Renaissance Party, Mustafa Qala Ji, said: “Turkey is still practicing its occupation of Syrian lands, starting with the Iskenderun, in addition to other areas, and we must not think that Turkey is doing this alone, it is part of a tripartite international alliance, Astana, Russia and Iran, and at the same time it is part of another international alliance that includes most of the hypocritical European Union countries, in addition to the godfather of politics in the region, the United States of America, represented by its alliance with NATO countries.”
Qala Ji affirmed that “Turkey is not alone. All those whom I mentioned are conspiring against us, regardless of our pre-national affiliations.”
He explained that, “Turkey, about a hundred years ago, invaded the Iskenderun and Cilicia and was daily nibbling meters along the border strip, attacking the Syrian national sovereignty, before the failed Arab Spring curse befalling the Syrians.”
Regarding the current occupation practices, the Syrian politician said: “Turkey, with the help of those whom I mentioned, imposing its mercenaries and providing them with all kinds of political, economic and military support, occupied a new area larger than Iskenderun. It now occupies Al-Bab, Jarablus, Azaz and Afrin, reaching areas that almost oversee the Syrian coast. The area that lies between Ras al-Ain and Tel Abyad, and it seeks day and night to occupy Ain Issa and its surroundings to cross the M4 international road. All this takes place under the sight and hearing of the immoral international community represented by the international coalition led by the United States.”
An imposition of a definitive existence in the Millî Pact regions
He continued: “Turkey consolidates its occupation of these areas and grants the Syrians in it Turkish citizenship, in addition to the recruitment of our people into its regime army, and for information, the residents of the areas to which I referred have dealt with Turkish lira, water, electricity, and Turkish communications, and the Turkish post office ptt has its offices spread in all usurped Syrian regions and towns, and those who supervise the administration of these areas are Turkish officers who impose the Turkification policy.”
The Syrian politician touched on a Turkish university opened its faculties in Al-Rai region and said: “These have other very dangerous indications. Most of the inhabitants of this region are Turkmen Syrians, so this is a very dangerous indicator through which you divide the people of the same nation and convince some of the logic of imposing an eventual Turkish presence in the areas of the so-called Turkish Millî Pact.
Qala Ji believed that “the danger that threatens us all, the Syrians, as a state and opposition, and even in the Autonomous Administration areas is our excessive confidence in the occupying countries, Turkey's partners in the region, and these countries cannot favor our interests over theirs.”
He added: “Therefore, we must not trust them and that the classification of everyone should be correct and clear, and that we meet on a clear and fair basis that guarantees the rights of all Syrians. We must reformulate the Syrian social contract on the basis of a fair distribution of wealth and power and draw up a constitution for the country in which the Syrians agree on the form of government.”
He continued: "The United States deceives us and steals our wealth, as is the case with the countries involved in Astana, for we are the ones who neglect our rights, whether by our consent or by the force of arms. The Syrian’s concern will only be interested by the Syrian brother, and the logic of things will not return to normal unless we liberate ourselves before the land from subordination to the other.”
Qala Ji sent a message to the Syrians, “They should all struggle and cooperate to liberate all Syrian lands and expel all occupations from them. This is the right start. We must free ourselves from the dependency of the other and be aware that they are not charitable societies. For those who say and advertise that the UN Resolution 2254 is the solution and it is the sincere one, I would like to remind them that the United Nations issued many resolutions before it that remained on its paper, including 242, 338 and 251, and many other resolutions.
Iraq ... Rules that follow the footsteps of history
The Turkish occupation moves were not limited to Syria only, but in Iraq and other regions. In October 2016, after the Iraqi government refused Turkey’s participation in the process of liberating the city of Mosul in northern Iraq from ISIS, the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, responded to the Iraqi decision by saying, “They have to read the Millî Pact to understand the meaning of Mosul for us ... Mosul was ours.”
Erdogan also said, “As we witness the events in Syria and Iraq, the new generation must know something well; wonder what the Millî Pact is, we must know this very well. If we say that we have a responsibility in Mosul, then for that we have to be at the table and in the field, and for that there is a reason. Unfortunately, we could not protect our Millî Pact on our western or southern borders, they wanted to lock us inside a shell, and we reject this concept, since 1923, they have wanted to lock us in this concept in order to make us forget our Seljuk and Ottoman past.
On another occasion, he said, “We could not protect our charter. If we carefully reflect on the developments in Syria and Iraq, there is something that I want to say, we must once again be the holders of the pact.”
The Turkish occupation worked to expand its presence in Başûr Kurdistan by establishing many military bases in cooperation with the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
Not only in Syria and Iraq, but the Turkish state has worked to expand its influence to the eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Azerbaijan and others.
The spokesman for the Turkish presidency, Ibrahim Kalin, said on December 25, 2019: “Whoever knows Turkey’s modern history well knows clearly and precisely that Turkey’s security begins behind the borders of the Millî Pact. We must draw a wider line for our security belt, so we care about Libya.”
Again, Ibrahim Kalin said: “In the era of globalization, Turkish national security begins behind the borders of the Millî Pact. Libya may seem distant, and saying that any matter in Libya reflects a narrow view of others.”
Ambitions ... Turkish culture
The Palestinian writer and analyst Mohamed Abu Muhadi talked about Turkish ambitions in the region and said: “Turkish ambitions in the neighboring countries and the world are an old topic, new in the Turkish society’s culture, which was talked about after the fall of the so-called the Ottoman Caliphate State, and it was resurrected in the era of the Turkish president Receb Tayyib Erdogan and his nationalist allies.”
He explained that “during the period between the fall of Baghdad due to the US invasion of Iraq and the wave of the Arab Spring that struck many Arab countries, their preoccupation with issues of terrorism and the pursuit of stability, Erdogan tried to take advantage of these emergency situations to gain access to the Arab sovereign areas in Syria and Iraq, in particular the Kurdish-majority regions, launched several military invasions in the north of the two countries, imposed military control over them, and supported extremist organizations loyal to it, taking advantage of the weakness of the central state in both countries and the international position that established such invasions, and was a partner in them.”
International silence helped Turkey
The Palestinian writer added, “The Turkish regime’s ambitions were not limited to the lands of northern Syria and Iraq. It exploited the international community’s silence to intervene in Libya, Mauritania and Somalia, on the borders of Greece and the Caucasus region, and went to openly intervene in the Karabakh crisis until the world began to notice the seriousness of what is being done ,European position has matured due to its practices in the eastern Mediterranean, and an attack on the sovereignty of European countries, and then measures to impose sanctions on Turkish figures and companies working in oil exploration, and others that supply weapons to Libya.”
He continued: “The international silence, which was more like a state of collusion with Turkish ambitions, stopped until the American voter came to a new administration that had a tough stance on the Erdogan regime, which prompted him to re-consider his political calculations and launch a conciliatory speech with the countries of the region and the world.”
Colonial culture is endemic to the thought of Justice and Development
The Palestinian writer affirmed that “the culture of colonial expansion is endemic to the political thinking of the Justice and Development Party and its nationalist ally. It can only be curbed through a real international will, or a defeat before the Turkish opposition forces, which have enhanced their electoral chances in the wake of the economic failure that struck Turkey due to the policies of Erdogan and his ruling party, and placing the majority of Turks at the center of an economic disaster is difficult to overcome in the near future.”
Palestinian writer and analyst Mohamed Abu Muhadi concluded his speech by saying: “In all cases, there are global and internal variables that will prevent Erdogan from pursuing his adventures in the countries of the world, at least they will put an end to them after the truth of this regime has been exposed and placed on the cusp of its fall.”