What has changed since Lausanne?
The real purpose behind the treaty that was effected on July 24, 1923, was getting hold of the valuable Ottoman lands. The Ottomans had no choice but to be a part of the war. Already weakened from within, the Ottoman Empire was the target of various plans and covert operations.
The plans to conquer its lands began as early as six years before. Russia and England in 1908; England, France and Russia on April 10, 1915; and England, France, Russia and Italy on April 26, 1915 had already reached deals as to how they would distribute the Ottoman lands. These secret plans were followed by another secret treaty on May 9, 1916, the notorious Sykes-Picot Agreement.
That treaty wasn't put into force like the others. However, this secret sharing of the remains of the Ottoman Empire was still implemented, even if it didn't go exactly the way it was planned. The currently divided state of the Middle East is the result of this covert plan.
In the beginning, it was thought that Sykes-Picot would become official with the Sevres Treaty. However the victories of the Turks in Anatolia and the fall of the caliphate laid the foundations for the Republic of Turkey. The Sevres Treaty was never put into action and the Middle East was shaped according to the Lausanne Treaty. Today, the only agreement that has been in effect since the time of the WWI is the Lausanne Treaty.
The Lausanne Treaty might have protected the existence of the lands of modern Turkey, but it failed to preserve the former Ottoman lands in the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa.
As the mentality of Sykes-Picot kicked in, the former Ottoman provinces became different states. Borders were created between former provinces and brothers were pitted against brothers. The people who had lived in peace and harmony for 600 years forgot about brotherhood and instead began to jealously guard their new borders. These artificial borders suddenly became the reason, the source of ever-continuing strife, conflict and hostility in the Middle East.
Syria, divided into 50 different parts; Iraq, divided into three different parts; Gaza, all but forgotten by the Muslim world; Libya, where the fighting never ends; and Egypt, still unsettled, are scenes of constant pain and suffering because of fraternal fighting. There will inevitably be more bloodshed if brothers continue to break away from each other due to different faiths, sects or ethnic origins. It was the impaired and broken sense of brotherhood that instigated this fight in the first place.
There is no doubt that the Ottoman Empire wasn't perfect. However, it was at its strongest when it championed faith and brotherhood the most. The loss of those values brought only collapse and death to to the Ottoman lands and division to the Middle East. Jerusalem, where people lived in peace for 600 years under the reign of the Ottomans, became one of the restless parts of the world today. People have lost their desire to live together; they have lost their desire to love each other and unite. Instead of embracing their differences, they chose to stay away. They become intolerant of those who didn't have the same faith, race or sect. They lost no time in adopting a fierce nationalism and sectarian spirit. They couldn't foresee that every new division would lead to further animosity, separation and turmoil.
The Western world made a mistake with its 1916 plan. They believed that they would have an easier time in managing and exploiting the region if they first divided the Middle East. The same Western world is now working to find a solution to the Middle East, grappling with constant strife. The Western world is losing its own soldiers on those lands, and spends its money on drones that bomb those lands. It is trying to protect its own borders from the clutches of the monster of radicalism that has reared its ugly head in the Middle East. It is paying a high price for the division it engineered in the first place.
Now is the time to take lessons from the past. The US plans that seek to divide the Middle East even further and make the already shattered lands 33 different countries, claiming that it is the solution, could very well be the beginning of even bigger disasters. The only solution to this dilemma where hatred spreads faster than love is unity. The people of the Middle East should be presented with a model where they will live together in peace and in brotherhood, just like their forefathers did. Unity is an absolute must for peace.
The Western powers, who were deeply wary of an ‘Islamic alliance’ back in 1916, have similar doubts today. For this very reason, Western society needs to be shown that the Islamic Union that will come about aims to bring brotherhood and peace to the world and will not see other communities and nations as adversaries. This is the type of union described in the Qur'an. Muslims can hope to be successful only if they aim at such an alliance.
It shouldn't be forgotten that every artificial union that is based on race, nationality, sect or merely sharing a common enemy always failed.
It should be noted that no matter how much brutal tyrants, radical organizations or the Western powers themselves are blamed for the state of the Middle East, the real blame rests on the Muslim world, who have lost their love for each other and became separated as a result. If the Western world is really trying to find a solution for the Middle East, it should encourage unity and love instead of focusing on outdated and failed variations of the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
A peaceful union based on the Qur'an will help develop and improve not only the Islamic world but the entire world. It will bring not only peace, but reinforce the love and brotherhood between nations. When that happens, money will not need to be spent on weapons, drones, the reconstruction of cities destroyed by wars, but rather spent on eliminating poverty, increasing education and creating industry. Then there will be no more tragic pictures of babies who have bullet holes in their tiny bodies.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view