The Arab League displayed an unusual solidarity – excluding Qatar and Somalia – voted to condemn Turkey’s Syrian operation calling it an “invasion.” Although the Arab League is known for its acute bickering and sharp divergence over the issues, what is it that urged a strong and nearly unanimous reaction against Turkey?The Arab leaders and their political views do not necessarily reflect the citizens they represent. With income inequality, corruption and unemployment at an all-time high and images of civil war, destruction and bloodshed having become a daily occurrence across the Arab world, the Arab leaders now feel the pressure building from below.There is not one Arab leader or state that is widely believed to be strong enough to transform the Arab world for the better. Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, sometimes called “the favorite dictator,” is having a difficult time staying in power and quashing sporadic upheavals. Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia has been trying hard to consolidate his reign at home by arresting and torturing his opponents, creating clan-wide feuds, all the while looking weaker internationally after the Aramco attack. He, too, has to put up with Trump’s insults quite frequently.Being given “honor” is everything in the Middle East, so these insults aren’t flattering. To make matters worse, there is a perception that the Arabs (of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) are killing Arabs in Yemen. With their own leaders’ reputation at an all-time low, Erdogan – a non-Arab – is now seen as the leader of “the Arab cause.”Although many see Erdogan’s Muslim Brotherhood roots as a serious threat, the public see him as the champion of the Palestinian cause. According to them, Erdogan is the only Muslim leader who can openly scold Benjamin Netanyahu, while Salman and Sisi seek dialogue with Israel for their own survival. Many Arabs regard dialogue attempts by Riyadh and Cairo as betrayal. Furthermore, Erdogan is seen as a strong enough leader that he was able to convince US President Donald Trump to withdraw and so Turkey could roll into Syria.Erdogan’s ability to “make American troops withdraw” is quite appealing to Arab citizens, particularly in the Gulf, who are discontent with the substantial American military presence. The Turkish prime minister is also credited with assembling an effective all-Arab Syrian National Army and preventing Saudi Arabia from swallowing Qatar. Furthermore, the growing Turkish military footprint in Qatar, Somalia, and Sudan disturb the two heavyweight Arab states of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.The proposed Turkish safe zone in Syria sends chills up the spine of the Arab leaders, too. At the United Nations, Erdogan displayed the blueprints for the multibillion-dollar settlement projects in the safe zone. To those Arab leaders, the safe zone will likely be a “safe haven” for their dissents, who they believe Erdogan may later use to mobilize the Arab public.In turn, the Arab leaders have taken steps to counter Erdogan. Saudi Arabia has sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the political wing of Turkey’s arch-foe in Syria, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). As the Turkish incursion began, the SDF representatives rushed to Cairo and met with Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry. The United Arab Emirates has also poured money and arms into Libya to counter the increasing Turkish presence there.As if Erdogan’s ability to appeal to the Arab street was not enough, the deployment of the Turkish military and the Arab Syrian National Army into Syria shook the Arab leaders to their core, reviving their age-old fear of “the Ottoman Turks are coming.” With the Arab state system across the Middle East being pulverized, the Operation Peace Spring may elevate Erdogan to “the Sultan of the Middle East.” This notion was enough to coalesce the Arab leaders, who otherwise would be notoriously bickering.The writer was a Fulbright scholar and earned a PhD in international relations from the University of South Carolina in 2015. He was an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston, SC (2011-2018). His articles have appeared in The National Interest.