On the issue of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, there seems to be a clear divide among Muslim countries in terms of being belligerent or being meek to United States. The Gulf nations along with Egypt is at one end of the spectrum, while East and North Middle Eastern countries along with Turkey being on the other end. The former group is the one being soft to US, while the latter led by Turkey is taking the bull by the horn.
Turkey is leading the battle against United States square on evidenced by warning that it would plunge the world “into a fire with no end.” It is not clear what it meant by fire! If it means terror attacks, it can open new fronts of terrorism, when the influence of ISIS is receding.
In this context, Turkey that currently leads OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) hosted a consortium involving all Muslim majority nations in Istanbul Wednesday to condemn the Trump’s decision on Jerusalem.
The Muslim nations, seemingly, is divided almost equally between the ones who are taking American bull by the horn and the ones submitting meekly to US. The former group is comprised of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordanian King Abdullah II, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, Bangladeshi President Abdoul Hamid and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani among the 22 heads of state and government attended the consortium. While in the latter group, Egypt and Saudi Arabia along with 23 other countries sent lower-level delegations.
Erdogan’s assertion to lead the protest right to the door of Capitol Hill did not go unnoticed. He said, “I am inviting the countries who value international law and fairness to recognize occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.”
Meanwhile, despite some vocal censure, Saudi Arabia seems to have distanced itself from the tirade to make Jerusalem capital of Palestine. Being a very important player in the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia’s taking its shoulder off the matter has diluted the impact of this consortium against USA and Israel.
“The Arab world cannot take a unified stance without the consent of Saudi Arabia or Egypt,” wrote Hurriyet daily news columnist Barcin Yinanc Tuesday. “The House of Saud, as well as Egypt’s current military ruler Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, both need U.S. support to maintain power and also to stand against Iran, which they see as gaining predominance with its advances in Iraq and Syria,” Yinanc said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusolgu, took a jibe at Saudi Arabia without naming it, for failing to take a tough stand against United States. He even said that Donald Trump “scares them.” “It seems that some Arab countries refrain from challenging Trump,” said the Turkish top diplomat.
Although, it is unlikely that these Muslim majority nations can change Washington’s stand, or can validate the East Jerusalem to be the Palestine’s capital as proposed in the gathering, almost every nation including the European countries have condemned the American position. Erdogan, even went to the extent of calling Israel “state of terror”, which risks Turkey of being undermined by United States as a close ally that it used to be. The wave of protests is extended to many parts of Asia, through Middle East and North Africa.
It is quite apparent that Trump’s anti Muslim bias is taking concrete steps. What Trump has been most successful is to keep Saudi Arabia in the loop in all his anti-Muslim stands. This itself would insulate a large number of Muslim majority countries to go against USA. Also, another interesting development is distancing between Turkey and Saudi Arabia and proximity of Turkey with Iran. In this complex geo-political equation of Middle East, the situation is changing rapidly, especially due to rapid changes taking place in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that is reshaping the two principal blocks of Iran and KSA.