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Roving Periscope: As Muslim nations split, Christian nations unite

Virendra Pandit 

New Delhi: At a time when the Muslim nations are splitting into Arab and non-Arab blocs, Christian nations are regrouping against the common threat of what they perceive as an existential crisis due to Islamism in Europe.

And they are being currently led by hyper-active French President Emmanuel Macron against the common threat of Islamism.

The response of most Arab nations to the latest French moves has been rather muted while that of the non-Arab countries like Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran, has been extremely aggressive. Both Turkey and France are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Turkey, which shares borders with Greece and Bulgaria, has also been trying to become a member of the 27-nation European Union (EU).

The trend has widened the gulf between the Arab and non-Arab nations, on the one hand, and united the Christian countries, on the other.

Media reports said tensions between the European Union and Turkey increased significantly this month after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned the ‘mental state’ of his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron—even though his call for a boycott of French goods has weakened the Turkish currency lira, further adding to the woes of the crippled Turkish economy.

Many a European Union (EU) official condemned Erdogan’s comments against Macron and its executive arm, the European Commission (EC), said on Monday that the Turkish President should change his approach if he does not want to derail the bloc’s attempts at renewed dialogue with Ankara. They will review the situation in December and may impose sanctions against Turkey if it does not mend its ways.

In another development, France recalled its Ambassador to Islamabad for “consultations” after the latter was summoned by the Pakistani Foreign Office to register its protest against Macron.

Interestingly, Pakistan’s National Assembly also passed a resolution to recall its Ambassador to Paris—only to discover that Islamabad has no Ambassador in France after the transfer of Moin-ul-Haq to China three months ago.

So why are the Arabs silent in this French-Turkish spat?

Erdogan is trying to resurrect the Ottoman Empire a century after its demise. If this happens, he will also become the Caliph-cum-Sultan of all the Sunni Muslims, who constitute about 80 percent of the community’s global population. Not only this, the resurrected Empire would also gobble up all the Arab nations, as these were its part until 1920.

The Arab Kingdoms do not want to be part of the Ottoman Empire again nor does Saudi Arabia want to lose the leadership of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). That is why the Arabs have moved closer to arch-enemy Israel, France, and even India, at a time Turkey and Pakistan, as also Iran, have joined the Chinese camp.

Tensions between France and Turkey have intensified in recent months over issues like the internecine wars in Syria, Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh as Ankara is supporting and funding Islamists around the world—even in Kashmir.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Joseph Borrel slammed Erdogan’s provocative comments against Macron and asked him to stop this confrontation. EC President Charles Michel also blamed Turkey for its unilateral actions in the Mediterranean and insults.

Media reports, quoting EU spokesman Peter Stano, said on Monday that an urgent meeting of EU ministers could also be held to decide whether Turkey be allowed membership of the Union.