By Soroor Ahmed
It is for the first time in history that a Muslim and a Jewish states have taken the initiative to broker peace between two warring Christian countries of the West – Russia and Ukraine.
Though the immediate solution is not within sight yet recent developments around the Black and Azov Seas is a significant departure from the past.
While the entire Europe and the United States have thrown their weight behind Ukraine and have thus become a party in the war, Russia has virtually been left alone. It is only from Belarus that it is getting some military cooperation.
China, though a good friend of Russia, is not keen in playing the role of peace-maker as ultimately its interest lies in the weakening of both the United States and European powers as well as Russia. It is only after the decline of the two Western blocs that Beijing can dream of becoming the number-one power in the world.
As the United Nations lost much of its relevance long back, the bloodletting in the heart of Europe is likely to linger on. In such a situation Turkey, though a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, is trying to maintain equi-distance from both the parties. This is notwithstanding the fact that it was Turkish drones which had helped the Ukrainian army in the initial phase of the war. But the drones were supplied to Ukraine much before the war started.
Now it is the Turkish city of Istanbul, which hosted peace talks between delegations of both Ukraine and Russia. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged as a major player and called upon the two countries to end the bloodbath.
In the same way Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett flew to Moscow in the first week of March when the war was not even 10-day old to broker peace. Israel too is a close ally of the United States. Not only that, Naftali Bennett is the first Israeli PM whose father was a migrant from the United States and not any European, African or Asian country.
But the efforts of Turkey and Israel failed to break the ice as the parties involved in the war refused to budge from their respective positions.
It is true both Turkey and Israel are apparently close to the United States and Europe, yet both these countries have historical, geographical and emotional reasons which prompted them to play this role.
If Crimea, the bone of contention between Russia and Ukraine since 2014, was once a part of Ottoman Turks, a huge proportion of Israelis have their origin in Russia and Ukraine. It is estimated that about half of the Jews in Israel can speak and understand Russian or Ukrainian language. Not only this, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is himself a Jew.
Both before and after the annexation of Crimea from Muslim Ottomans in 1783, Russia and Turkey fought many battles for the control of the region. The Crimean War of 1853-56 was one among them.
As geographically the theatre of the on-going war along the Black Sea is not far away from the eastern Mediterranean Sea, both Turkey and Israel have much at stake. How can the Russian as well as American involvement in the Syrian civil war be overlooked? In the same way both Turkey and Israel were deeply involved in the Syrian theatre too.
Needless to remind, the process of the creation of the Jewish state started during World War-I after the snatching of Palestine by the Allied Powers from Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman Dynasty, one of the longest in history, collapsed a few years after the end of the Great War (1914-1918).
History is repeating itself, but with a difference. A century later Erdogan is trying to restore the glory of the same Ottoman Empire. Whether he would succeed or not is a different matter. Unlike the two World Wars, till now there is absolutely no scope for the war in Ukraine to spill over to anywhere in Asia and Africa. Perhaps this is the greatest regret for the Anglo-Saxon powers on both sides of the Atlantic.
There is other side of the battle in Ukraine. Unlike the two World Wars, there is hardly any scope for the White colonists to throw millions of young soldiers from the Indian sub-continent and Africa in the bloodbath. In the absence of cannon-fodder the volunteers and soldiers from Europe and even North America are fighting their own battle.
Today no military expert can predict as to how long the battle in the food-basket of Europe would continue. It is an established fact that when great powers of the West are involved, the war does not end soon. The two World Wars are the best examples.
If the withering away of League of Nations led to World War-II, the growing irrelevance of the United Nations has the potential to plunge the globe into many unending conflicts.
It can be argued that in the 20 years of the existence of the League of Nations – that is between the two World Wars – the planet, especially Europe and North America, hardly witnessed any big bloodbath. The possible exception may be the Japanese occupation of Manchuria (China). Though it is also true that in several pockets of the world the struggle for independence from the colonial powers had started in this very period of two decades.
In contrast the globe was plunged into prolonged wars soon after the formation of the United Nations. Though this time the wars started in the Far East-Korean Peninsula (1950-53) and Vietnam (1945-1975) yet the fact remained that the West was the major player in them.
Besides, it should not be forgotten that the Arab-Israel and Indo-Pak tussle started soon after the coming into existence of the United Nations. The role of Super Powers in these and many other conflicts across the world such as Iran-Iraq War cannot be under-estimated. Then came the direct involvement of the global powers in the two Gulf Wars. The 10-year long engagement of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and of 20 years by the US-led NATO in the same country also exposed the fragility of the United Nations.
It would be premature to write the obituary of the United Nations yet the ongoing war in Ukraine has made it clear that its report card is no better than that of the League of Nations.
[The writer is the author of ‘The Jewish Obsession’]