The bottom is falling out for post-war UN regime

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 JUL 25, 2022 – DAILY SABAH


Feeding the poor and needy is an act that draws us closer to Allah. We earn His forgiveness, mercies and blessings through this act of charity.

“Anyone who looks after and works for a widow and a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah?s cause, or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all night. (Bukhari)

A wheat field is seen in the village of Zhurivka, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine, July 23, 2022. (Reuters Photo)

A wheat field is seen in the village of Zhurivka, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine, July 23, 2022. (Reuters Photo)


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sit at the start of the signature ceremony of an initiative on the safe transportation of grain and foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports, Istanbul, Turkey, July 22, 2022. (AFP Photo)

Grain corridor, summits and Turkey’s policy


The landmark document Kyiv and Moscow’s representatives signed last week in Istanbul is not only freeing up Ukrainian Black Sea ports and clearing the way for exporting millions of tons of desperately needed Ukrainian grain, as well as Russian grain and fertilizer, but it is showing us that what President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calls “a new paradigm in diplomacy” is possible. Moreover, it is not only possible, it is highly probable.

Erdoğan criticizes the current international system and proposes a way that would help the world to reform it. Last week he actively showed the way to implement that reform proposal. Erdoğan keeps telling the world that “it is neither moral nor fair for just five nations to make decisions on issues that could influence the fate of the world.” He summarized this argument in a catchy slogan: “The world is bigger than five.”

The U.N. Security Council has five permanent members (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) who, by virtue of being the victors of the last global war, are supposed to be the keepers of global peace. The composition of the council does not reflect the multicultural and multipolar characteristics of the world today. The council would naturally be divided into two camps; the fight would be prevented by the veto power given to both camps. The ensuing balance would be maintained by another kind of war: both sides would pile up weapons that would not defend the side that uses them but would seek to extirpate the other side. The net result would become so fearsome that this new kind of war, depending on mutual assured destruction, would deter nations from starting it. But it didn’t create a peaceful situation to help the United Nations and its councils to find solutions to international problems; it simply created inertia, a passivity that deepened the bifurcation of the world. The simplest issues became gangrene; both sides now would play for time, making things happen later instead of sooner. Negotiations were ostensible, nonfunctional run-arounds, adding fuel to the flames.

Nobody has been thinking regionally anymore; all issues, big or small, are being turned over to the big powers who would be abusing them in their eternal fight with the others. The situation would be exacerbated if the issues involved one of the big powers.

Case in point: Russia’s problems with Ukraine. If the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group were not headed by a co-chairpersonship consisting of France, Russia and the U.S., but owned and operated by what was called “the participating states” (Belarus, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan), the Nagorno-Karabakh problem between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Donbass conflict between Ukraine and Russia could have been solved long before guns were fired, bombs exploded and people killed.

For the U.S., everything is an opportunity to score against Russia and China; and it is Russia or China seeking to make a killing! Since both the attacker and the defender would be annihilated, they would never commit themselves to the “big war” but keep egging small powers on against each other.

That nonsensical war in Ukraine should have never started, and it should stop immediately. The longer it continues the deeper the scars it will make. Unfortunately, the relationship between the two brotherly nations, Russians and Ukrainians, will never be the same.

The Ukrainian leadership must have believed what they heard from the big mouths of one side. Russians, on the other hand, despite all the international expertise they have in war and peace issues, fell victim to their overinflated egos, and as Richard Moore, chief of the U.K.’s MI6, says, “facing epic fails and running out of steam.” A regional conference, with leaders on a first-name basis, could have solved the Donbass problem before it deteriorated into what it is today. The European Union could have played a more constructive role, whereas it appears to have fallen victim to the competition between France and the U.S.

Erdoğan and Turkey are not under the hegemony of a dominant culture or privileged stakeholders. Erdoğan believes that it is possible to make the world multipolar, multicentric, multicultural, more inclusive and fairer; and he sees the U.N. as the primary place to accomplish that goal.

So, when Erdoğan was with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, overlooking the signatories of the groundbreaking grain corridor deal in Istanbul last Friday, it was as if we witnessed the embodiment of the idea that “the world is bigger than five.”

Perhaps, the actual reformation of the U.N. is not going that fast because old institutions die hard. Turkey has just highlighted the fact that while the unfair nature of the current international system is not yielding any meaningful and peaceful outcomes, the leaders who think globally but act regionally can achieve better results. One example might not be enough but even one case of a fair result draws attention to Turkey’s long-standing call to reactivate diplomacy. We shouldn’t wait for the international system, including the U.N., to collapse. Guterres has been supporting Erdoğan’s call to revitalize diplomacy; on many occasions he said, “diplomacy is the spirit of the U.N. Charter.”

The grain corridor deal in Istanbul is just another step in Turkey’s intense diplomatic efforts to work out a solution for the Ukraine crisis; it is not limited to the people of Ukraine. The grain that is going to be transported from Ukraine is going to be distributed under the supervision of the U.N. system. It is not going to be hoarded by some rich nations but apportioned fairly among developing countries. Perhaps, that would underline the importance of the formula of regional solutions to regional problems for the benefit of the globe.


Hakkı Öcal is an award-winning journalist. He currently serves as academic at Ibn Haldun University.


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