Jordan welcomes 'big brother' Turkey’s return to Middle East

Jordan welcomes 'big brother' Turkey’s return to Middle East

AMMAN - Hürriyet Daily News
Jordan welcomes big brother Turkey’s return to Middle East

Jordan’s King Abdullah (C) reviews a guard of honor prior to the opening of the first session of the new Parliament in Amman. ‘We do not look at it [Turkey] as a foreign power trying to find a place in the region. We find it very wise,’ says PM Abdullah Ensour. REUTERS photo

Believing that a secular and modern Turkey could contribute more to averting sectarian or any other sort of conflicts in the Middle East, the Jordanian prime minister has welcomed the return of Turkey, which he described as a "big brother," to the Middle East.

“Turkey has had a very important, very impressive comeback to the Middle East, to where it belongs. We, in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, are very happy that we witnessed the changes in Turkey that brought our big brother to the region,” Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour told a group of Turkish journalists visiting the country prior to King Abdullah’s trip to Turkey next week.

Jordan and Turkey have common problems stemming from the Syrian crisis, which has caused hundreds of Syrians to flee both to its northern and southern neighbors. This has been an especially huge burden for Jordan, who is currently struggling through dire days both economically and politically.

Given the circumstances, Turkey’s return as a powerful country to the Middle East is welcomed by Jordan, according to its prime minister. “We do not look at it as a foreign power trying to find a place in the region. We find it very wise and strategic look of Turkey,” the Jordanian prime minister said. Referring to ongoing regional conflict and instability, Ensour said Jordan, as a small nation, needed Turkish presence in the region more than anyone else and recalled that the Middle East has always been instable since World War I, which actually ended 300 years of Ottoman rule in the region.


Jordan PM Abdullah Ensour. AP photo

It was interesting to hear Turkey described as a “big brother” in a rather positive sense from a senior politician of a Middle Eastern country as this is commonly used in defaming Ottoman rule in the region and criticizing neo-Ottomanism moves in modern Turkey.

“This has been our position ever since. We’ve always had the best relations with Turkey. Every other Arab country has had a change of heart regarding Turkey,” he stressed, without elaborating further.

When asked what Turkey could do contribute to the region as a big brother, the prime minister replied “You know very well the challenges in the region, especially sectarian conflicts. That’s very bad. You are a laique [secular] country. And therefore the best efforts to prevent this could come from Turkey.”

Praising the achievements made in Turkey during the rule of President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that turned the nation into a powerful country and a good example for regional countries, the prime minister said that Turkey, under the current government, stands as a good example of a modern Islam.

“We very much welcome this. Look, Islam is being targeted everywhere in the world. What we need is to show them the best practices, the best examples. ‘Hey, hold on’ we should tell them. ‘Look here [in Turkey], Islam could work. Islam could be open, could be clear, could be pacific, could accept others, could be moderate and could not be brutal.’ In this sense, there are so many things Turkey can offer,” he stated.

Turkish support for refugee crisis

Making clear that he was following Turkish politics very closely by recalling that three deputied had gone to visit İmralı island as part of the government’s initiative to solve the Kurdish question, Ensour cited the launching of a special TV broadcasting in Kurdish and the openness shown toward Kurds as very important and appraisable moves.

Trying to survive huge economic problems amid a political reform campaign, Jordan is also trying to deal with a refugee problem that grows every day. There are 4,000 to 5,000 people fleeing Syria every day, crossing the border into Jordan, officials say. As of Feb. 24 the registered number of refugees was 402,000. But according to Ensour, unregistered people bring this number as high as 800,000 to 900,000. “You are the first non-Jordanian journalist ever hearing this figure. This has never been told by a senior Jordanian official,” he said.

“We need your support as a country that shares with us the Syrian problem to attract special attention [of the international community] on what’s going on in Syria,” Ensour said.