The Middle East region has been in turmoil for more than five years now. The future for both Iraq and Syria, surviving with their historic borders in tact is unsure. Watch Govindraj Ethiraj in conversation with Yasar Yakis, Former Foreign Affairs of Turkey, about the prospects for Middle Eastern countries and Turkey’s role in it.
Yasar Yakis , former foreign minister of Turkey says that the Middle East as we have known it post-World War II will not remain. He says, “The situation in Syria is such that present regime prefers to preserve territorial integrity only on the condition that it’s ruled by Bashar al Assad.”
But he theorises that the future could see a ‘useful Syria’ emerge from the ongoing conflict. Assad’s useful Syria could extend from Aleppo in the north to Derra in South including Damascus, Homs, Latakia and Tartus.
The partial disintegration of Syria would then give rise to the emergence of a Kurdish state in the north. The disintegration could possibly give rise to a Sunni-stan (with a Sunni majority), created with parts of Iraq and Syria. Parallel disintegration would lead to a Shia state in the south, a Sunni state in middle and a Kurdish state in the North.
He recounts the arbitrary drawing of borders through the Sykes-Picot agreement which had failed to take the tribal and religious sentiments in to consideration while creating countries. A redrawing of the map of Middle East, based on tribal or religious parameters could be the future.
On asked about the escalating threat from ISIS, he says that the complete eradication of ISIS elements would not be possible. At the same time, indefinite existence of ISIS, or for that matter any semi-state or non-state actor is impossible too. It is known that both in Turkey , Iraq and Syria, there is a Sunni segment undisturbed by presence of ISIS. For them, the practices followed by ISIS is what is preached by Islam.
Yasir feels that Turkey’s long tradition of secularism since the 1930s is being diluted and the present regime in Turkey is giving a push to an Islamic society. But it is yet to see to what extent the Turkish people would accepts this.
Though the Turkish government has been trying to play an important role in the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq, the government’s Syrian, Iraqi policy has not been encouraging enough and has instead made the country lose its leverage in Middle-East.
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