The depths of history have a great impact on countries' foreign policies. That is undeniable. For example, one can see a "colonialist" effect in France's swift interventions in Africa, for which it felt no need to seek international approval. On the other hand, we, as the heirs of the Ottoman Empire, an empire that always ruled people of all faiths, beliefs and ethnicities in the lands it conquered with great justice, that opposed tyranny and adopted a foreign policy of protecting the weak and the persecuted, are able to embrace our Syrian brothers fleeing from persecution by Assad today and it is due to that historical depth. That historical reflex is part of our nature.
However, as a requirement of the sociological analysis that the "public memory is weak", wise rulers and intellectuals should have a vision of recalling the positive aspects of their own societies so that that particular feature would come forward by its own means.
For example, the people of Iraq founded one of the greatest civilizations ever in Mesopotamia, one of the greatest political and cultural centers in the history of mankind. Iraq also has deep historical roots. After becoming acquainted with Islam, it became one of the strongest defenders of our faith. However, although Iraq possesses a great historical and religious maturity, and has been able to live in peace with Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen for thousands of years, it is finding it hard to escape the climate of turmoil into which it has fallen today.
In the post-Saddam era, Iraq came under the influence of not only heavy military and political pressure, but also the anti-propaganda of scores of states that want to take their share of Iraq's petroleum and other underground resources. Given that pressure, it is bound to remember its own essence and historical depth more than other Muslim countries. Why? Because some countries that think it will damage their own interests for Iraq to emerge from this turmoil, and they are perfectly well aware that the best way to weaken and destroy any nation is to set that nation against its own elements. It is more practical, in the absence of an enemy, for a Shiite, a Sunni or a Turkmen to be regarded as a foe. What needs to be done in the wake of such propaganda and provocative actions is for them to lie back and say, "Oh dear, we really wish you had not done that." That is just what is happening today. Ever since U.S. troops left Iraq, people who once lived together with no trouble are now killing one another, bombing one another's mosques and attacking their own brothers! According to a report in USA Today, 'The violence is growing worse by the day.' According to al-Jazeera, 'If this continues, it will be impossible for Iraq to avoid civil war in 2014.'
This situation is painful and unacceptable for a Muslim country with such a heritage as Iraq. There are many significant figures in the Iraqi parliament seeking a solution and seeking to calm down the civil strife incited under the guise of sectarian conflict, but they find themselves at a loss as to how to do it. Nothing will come of saying, "Calm down and pull yourselves together"; Iraq is dealing with violent sectarian radicals, not disobedient children.
Yet the solution is obvious: Iraq must return to its roots. Its leaders must stress this. They must say: "Let us remember our historical depths, let us remember the commands of our faiths. We believe in the one God, His Messenger and the same Book. Kurd or Shiite or Sunni, these fundamental values command us to be united. Other than that, differences are a source of wealth for us. If there is terror, if cars are blown up, if there is an attack, know that this is a conspiracy; let us be aware of that. Let us watch over one another. Let us thwart these stratagems. There is no other way of preventing this tragedy than trusting in and relying on Allah and following the path He has shown."
Unless this perception is established, they will not find a solution by twiddling their thumbs and making comparisons between the seemingly Sunni rulers of Saddam's era and the seemingly Shia rulers of the Maliki administration.
The Iraqi parliament must come together with opinion formers and build a program to weld the nation together around the unifying elements at the heart of our great faith. Mobilization must be declared for education that will purge people of fanaticism. Leaders enjoying prestige must be told that every word they speak in the wake of an incident is of the greatest importance and that they need to issue messages of unity, calling for peace and moderation.
Those who encourage strife in Iraq need to know that evil produces only more evil. The world is now a much smaller place, and nothing remains localized any more. Like the butterfly effect, something happening in one corner of the world will go round it and come back to you again. The strategy of "Let me be strong and let my neighbor remain weak," needs to be consigned to the trash heap of history as a foolish and obsolete way of thinking: It is the principle of, "My neighbor being strong can only strengthen me" that now applies. In the same way that people became acquainted with civilization with the spread of Islam and the Qur'an following the darkness of the Middle Ages, we can now do something similar by uniting in our faith in God. The time has come to embrace a world in which people are not hemmed in by official borders, where there is no difference of race or creed or culture, but a world in which people are united in prosperity and happiness.