Charity starts at home
“States have no eternal friends or allies, they have eternal interests,” British Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston (1784-1865) said. “Interest” is the golden rule of foreign policy. Deviating from this rule means risking great losses.
The Turkish government deviated from that rule in order to gain points inside the country, with tendencies favoring Sunni Muslims, anti-Semitism, and foreign policy choices, and we have already begun to pay for it. Turkey became Bashar al-Assad’s greatest enemy soon after the civil movement in Syria began. Allying with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the country armed the opponents of al-Assad and paid them money. Turkey did everything it could to achieve al-Assad’s fall, even trying to persuade the U.S. to intervene in Syria as it did in Libya.
I don’t think I would be exaggerating if I were to say no country has tried as hard as Turkey to get al-Assad to leave power. The result we infer should be that al-Assad’s fall will be in favor of Turkey. But we can’t reach such a result, because it seems al-Assad’s leaving will not favor the Turks. It will actually be quite to the contrary: Syria is a country that has very different people, from various religious sects and ethnic groups, including Arabs, Kurds, Christians, Sunnis and Alevis. So far, al-Assad and his father have kept all these groups together under a despotic regime.
The current situation in northern Iraq
Since al-Assad is on his way out of power, this forced unity is beginning to break apart. Syria is falling to pieces like Iraq. This is a dangerous fact, which will complicate the Kurdish and Alevi problems in Turkey even more.
With a tit-for-tat strategy, al-Assad began to support the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in order to harm Turkey. He withdrew from the northern part of Syria, leaving many zones on the Turkish border to the local Kurds. He also allowed heavy weapons to fall to the PKK, and released 1,200 PKK members who had been arrested for political crimes. He opened the region to PKK members coming from Kandil.
Syria is also the backdrop behind the conflict that has been going on in Şemdinli for days. Turkey’s hostile foreign policy toward Syria has brought these consequences:
1. The PKK has acquired a second front line in which it has a free hand, in addition to northern Iraq.
2. The PKK has obtained heavy weapons which could not have come from other sources.
3. From the Iranian border to Mediterranean, a Kurdish zone has emerged which cannot be simply cleared away.
Our people’s bloodshed
Turkey should have given every kind of humanitarian support to civilians in Syria and remained impartial in the civil war, because its interests required that. However, our state could not remain impartial, and chose to become al-Assad’s enemy, for no reason. In response, al-Assad struck out at Turkey by using the Kurdish problem, which is one of our deepest wounds.
No matter what we do, Assad’s fall is inevitable. So, why did we aid his enemies to our own disadvantage? Please don’t say, “In order to prevent the bloodshed of innocents.”
We should first search for ways to prevent bloodshed on the part of our own innocent people. As the British saying goes: “Charity starts at home.” If you want to do charity work, start with your own home.