The release of “Kingdoms of Fire,” the television series that recently started airing on United Arab Emirates-based MBC TV, owned by Saudi Arabia, is evaluated as a move aimed at breaking the influence of Turkish TV series’ legendary impact on the Arab world – or rather increasingly on the world at large. It was the show’s producer, Yasir Harib’s statement that Kingdoms of Fire will “reveal the fierce history behind the Ottoman state,” which gave rise to such an evaluation. The show, nonetheless, is openly targeting the Ottomans and, through the Ottoman Empire, today’s Turkey.
This is perhaps the first time an explicit attack of this scale is taking place in official Arab media against Turkey.
We constantly strove to explain that the Turks’ perception that “Arabs stabbed us in the back”, and the “Ottomans exploited us for centuries” perception in Arabs that has carried on from the beginning pf history, particularly during the establishment of nation-states post-World War I, to the present, is an imperialist discourse aimed at distancing peoples from each other, inciting hatred among them. Frankly, at the current point, we can easily say that despite all official discourses, the Arabs no longer see the Ottomans as a nation that exploited them and, with the exception of the insolent few who haven’t a clue about their own history and culture, Turks in general no longer think of Arabs as traitors that “stabbed us in the back.”
Also, there is high and widespread awareness about how this dual-sided propaganda serves an occupying, colonialist aim. It goes without saying that surely there were traitors among Arabs that did stab the Ottomans in the back, but that many traitors – in fact even more – have also emerged from among the Turks as well as the other nations under the Ottoman State.
On the contrary, there were people from among the Arabs, as well as all the other Ottoman nations, that were loyal to death to the Caliphate and fought alongside Turks and fell martyrs in Çanakkale, in Tripoli, in the Hejaz region, and all other fronts. After this war, various campaigns were used to sever ties between Arabs and Turks and sow the seeds of hatred between these two nations. Thus, anti-Arab sentiment and anti-Turkish sentiment go hand in hand. The moment we eliminate both enmities, brotherhood is the only thing that remains.
Such a high demand in the Arab world in recent years for Turkish TV series, which have reached a vast area of impact, shows how much Arabs are longing to embrace their Turkish brethren. The high demand for “Resurrection: Ertuğrul,” “Payitaht Abdulhamid” (The Last Emperor), “Kut’ul Amare” in particular, and even other popular drama series, is an articulation of this longing. None of these shows touch on any controversial topic between Arabs and Turks. There is even no rush to respond to the propaganda in question. These TV series do not target the current Arab regimes in any manner. There is no such intention or aspect as to display animosity towards them, or provoke the public against them. Despite this, the first mega project from MBC, which vy to break the impact of these shows, directly targeting the Ottoman Empire is very telling.
The MBC removing from air the Turkish TV series it previously considered, bought and broadcast as popular culture items only, claiming the formation of empathy towards Ottoman history, despite existing trade agreements, reveals their perception. This view is a pathological, sick one that also contains a great deal of guilt. It is clear that this sick view has not forgotten the history we are striving to forget in order to open a new page and embrace our Arab brethren. Furthermore, just as they did not forget, they are hysterically confronting history in attempts to justify their own historical sins. Yet, the more they remember and reiterate this history, further weakening their legitimacy in the eyes of their own people will become inevitable.
What, for example, would “Resurrection: Ertuğrul” or “The Ottoman” tell Arabs? On the other hand, what would “Kingdoms of Fire” tell its own people?
The first tells how a great nation, including Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Bosnians, Iranians, were resurrected and how, with determination, they were able to establish a great civilization together. It contains no enmity towards any Muslim nation. On the contrary, it talks about the struggle to spread the beauty of unity, livelihood and Islam to all humankind. This story inspires hope and excitement in both Arab nations and all the oppressed.
Yet, what kind of heroic profile will be presented to today’s people through Tuman Bay II, the last Sultan of the Mamluks in Cairo, who has no other attribute than that he desperately and savagely fought against the Ottomans, in other words, against the union and livelihood of Muslims? What message will it send and to whom? Let us say some sort of a message was given, how will this message be perceived by Arab nations or other countries?
Will people look at these messages and forget those given through TV series such as “Resurrection: Ertuğrul”? What a sorry struggle!
To top it off, the producer and director of “Kingdoms of Fire” is a British screenwriter, and its lead is an Egyptian actor, a man of the dictator Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, who slaughtered his own people without batting an eye. So, who are they going to fool?