The Treaty of Sèvres, imposed by the Allies on the Ottoman Empire after World War I, had virtually destroyed Turkey as a national state. The treaty was not recognised by the nationalist government under Mustafa Kemal Pasha (later known as Ataturk). After the nationalist victory over the Greeks and the overthrow of the Sultan during the War of Independence, Ataturk’s government was in a position to request a new peace treaty. Accordingly, the signatories of the Treaty of Sevres and delegates of the USSR (excluded from the previous treaty) met at Lausanne, Switzerland. After lengthy negotiations, a peace treaty was signed in 1923.

The modern Turkish Republic was founded according to this Treaty of Lausanne 1923. Britain has developed several unfair and painful conditions to the rights of the Ottoman Empire, such as the abolition of the caliphate, and the exile of the caliph and his family outside of Turkey, and the confiscation of all his assets and the declaration of a secular state, and to prevent Turkey from oil exploration and to consider the Bosphorus Strait which links between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, and then to the Mediterranean as an international corridor which it is not entitled to Turkey to obtain fees/tax from ships passing through it.

The Turks have never forgotten the Treaty of Lausanne, which caused the reduction of the geography of the modern Turkish state and forced it to give up large territories that were belonging to it.

We can understand some aspects of the ongoing differences between Turkey and the West. Western countries fear that if the treaty were to not exist, Turkey would find the justification for its intervention in Mosul, which has belonged to Turkey over four centuries until it lost it in the First World War.

Then, what will happen with the treaty in place, as it is in the world today? Turkey could still play a dynamic role to unite Muslim countries which is an indispensable need of the time. At the present juncture, Muslim-majority countries are facing many threats, including terrorism and civil war, on top of a rise in xenophobia. Terrorist organisations shed blood in our marketplaces, mosques, and schools. Muslims are powerless, inactive, and are not fairly represented in international organisations. The Islamic world has no prerogative to make and implement decisions to determine its future. The Security Council’s structure needs to be shaped taking into consideration the world population.

Turkey has to call for fraternity beyond favourable relations among Muslims by suggesting that Muslim countries should mobilise to cooperate in technical, trade, cultural, and social affairs. All Muslim countries have to stand for “International Solidarity Day against Islamophobia” and raise their voice against growing anti-Muslim sentiment. All Muslim countries have to establish a joint media and communications center against anti-Muslim racism. Anti-Muslim hatred has significantly risen in Europe in recent years. Far-right extremism and xenophobia have fueled anti-Muslim hatred in Western countries, where terror attacks by Daesh and Al-Qaida are used as an excuse to legitimise those views.

Touching upon the Palestine issue, all Muslim countries should also take a determined stance against Israel’s injustice. By not respecting the Palestinian people’s right to live and work in peace, Israel is jeopardising the future of the world and the region. The only condition to overcome the crisis in the Islamic world is unity, solidarity, and alliance. We can resolve every problem as long as we are united. If we (as Muslims) act together, we will end the loneliness of Palestine which has continued for nearly one century. It is possible to end the bloodshed in Iraq and the deaths of Syrian and Kashmiri children if we unite under the leadership of Turkey.

Asfan Tariq

The writer is a civil servant at the Punjab Civil Secretariat. He can be reached asfantariq@gmail.com and tweets @asfantariq.