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BURAK BEKDİL

burak.bekdil@hurriyet.com.tr

BURAK BEKDİL > From Syria with love

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We thought that $$$$$, friendship and Muslim solidarity would pour in from the other side of the Syrian border. We thought that the fences that had been the Syrian border would disappear. We thought that a Middle Eastern Coal and Steel Community was in the making. Instead, bombs pour in, kill locals and we shell Syrian targets in retaliation. I would be content to have a hundred troubles with neighbors instead of zero problems, but war and bloodshed instead of zero problems is too large a deviation.

When official policy digresses this much from its original course it is quite normal if locals from the border town are sprayed with pepper gas by the Turkish police after having been shelled by the (non-free) Syrian Army. The angry townspeople were dispersed after they marched to the governor’s office to protest about the deaths of five people.

But that’s not the only Turkish irony. Turkey is probably the only country in the world claiming that two countries that are technically at war with each other owe it an apology for killing its civilians. We know the Turkish conditions for normalization of ties with Israel: An official apology for killing nine Turkish citizens aboard the Mavi Marmara in 2010, compensation for the families of the victims, and the removal of the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

What could the conditions for normalization along the Syrian border be? An official apology for the downing of the RF-4E reconnaissance aircraft on June 22 and for firing shells into the town of Akcakale on the border, compensation to the families of the two pilots and five civilians. What else? Certainly, regime change in Damascus. Not enough. A break off from Iran and consequently Sunni rule in Damascus is another sine qua non.

Apparently, Turkey is being dragged into a bizarre coalition of the willing for regime change in Syria. It’s bizarre, because Turkey is fast heading to becoming a solo coalition of the willing, with several pats on the shoulder from its Western and Sunni allies. We thought that Turkey would become a regional power, not a regional hit man.

But I am sure Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will have plenty of time to discuss Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their planned meeting in Ankara Oct. 14. A minor note of caution for Mr. Putin: Watch out President, as Reuters recently warned, “Turkey’s bark is much worse than its bite.”

Fortunately, all the nice words from allies - most notably from Washington and the NATO headquarters - and the news that the Turkish army had successfully struck back at Syrian targets will cool public tension. Hopefully, the Syrian shelling will become a bad, distant memory that no Turk will remember in half a year, just like the RF-4E affair. Unless, of course, a fresh border incident on either side kills again.

There is one more irony about “Black Wednesday.” Only hours before the Syrian shells were fired into Akçakale and exploded, three suicide bombers detonated cars packed with explosives in a government-controlled area of the battleground city of Aleppo in northern Syria, killing more than 40 people and injuring more than 120. Experts agree that the Aleppo bombing technique is a signature style of al-Qaeda-type jihadist groups aiming to depose Bashar al-Assad.

The irony? Recently, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri called on all Muslims to back the rebels in Syria. Good. Muslim Turkey fully obeys Mr. al-Zawahri’s call for jihad in Syria. But jihad is never cost-free. Jihadists rarely explain why the five civilians killed in the Syrian shelling are innocent victims but the 40 people who died in the Aleppo bombings are just unworthy casualties in a holy war.

In reality, the bombs detonated in Aleppo were “courtesy of jihadists” and the shells exploded in Akçakale were “from Syria with love.”

October/05/2012

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american american

10/7/2012 12:04:57 PM

meanwhile we all turn away from who will become turkey's future president. dogan, which western democracy has been around for 400 years? and if that is your argument, i never want to hear that while us westerners were living in caves, civilization was being enjoyed by the glorious cultures of the middle east. what happened to these cultures? did they get to old and senile to remember civility?

jd pomerantz

10/6/2012 4:01:11 PM

Dogan, the "Arab Spring" is nothing but media hype & whitewashing the Ikhwan's takeover of Egypt cum radical Islamization of Tunisia. As gas been said here ad nauseam, democracy is more than a majority forcing its will upon a minority by the ballot box instead of by bullets & bayonets. Freedom to starve under Morsi or be beheaded with a straight razor like the Christian convert just was in Tunisia is not freedom - at least, not in the Western sense.

mara mcglothin

10/5/2012 9:39:58 PM

DOGAN There can be no democracy without justice, and there can be no will of the majority without the protection of the minority. Also, make no mistake while all the tribes, peoples of the Muslim Middle East are fighting amonst themselves, we over here no matter what we believe are all Americans our Muslim minority included, so don't get it twisted. The Bible says that he who punishes Israel will be punished by God. So that is pretty clear cut. wouldn't you say?

Hakan Salci

10/5/2012 7:39:22 PM

Syria has turned into a proxy war fought between a Western Sunni Arab alliance against a Shia Eastern block represented by Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, Irak, & Russia. As conditions did not rapidly deteriorate as expected by the West Turkey has been appointed as 'point man' to be sacrificed if necessary; after all was it not our Great Leader who confirmed the AKP was a partner in the Greater Middle Eastern Project? Well now comes the part where we pay for that privileged partnership, rejoice citizen!

Recep Ozel

10/5/2012 5:54:43 PM

Good article Burak! I am not sure Erdoğan knows what he eventually wants to achieve for Turkey. Some of us are starting to wonder, due to his imprisonment earlier in his political career and his education, does he secretly hate everything Turkey has stood for? Does he want to create a different Turkey with different borders and different people?

dogan kemal ileri

10/5/2012 5:43:51 PM

Dear Turkiye's foreign correspondents remember its taken your countries 400 years to reach the levels of advanced democracy so dont expect Turkiye(80 years) and Arab spring countries (just started) to be at your level but we will get there by evolving our way.Arab and Musliman public opinion are boiling like a cauldron so the USA and its de facto Colony Israel really need to start worryying as the momentum is against you.But this is the will of the majority of the people, democracy right?

Murat

10/5/2012 4:28:40 PM

There is a pointhere maybe but I am missing it unless sarcasm for the sake of sarcasm was the point. One would think Turkey started the problems in Syria or had a hand in killing, ignoring the 100K we are protecting and feeding at 100s of $M. One would think reading here Turkey is to be blamed for the murders Israel committed. As the dear Hodja asked "doesn't the theif have any blame"?

Danny B Danny

10/5/2012 3:40:07 PM

V Tiger: Don't let your hate toward Israel to blindfold your eyes. Turkey is not doing any job for Israel, on the contrary , if the Turks (supporters of AKP) could have drowned all Israelis in a glass of water they would gladly do that. But we must admit that choosing between Aids to Cancer or other disease , we would have preferred to remain with disease we know (like Assad) who kept borders quiet for many years. who knows what those Al Quaida fanatics will bring to our door steps.

Danny B Danny

10/5/2012 3:31:36 PM

dogan kemal ileri: Hope you really believe to what you just wrote. The political transformation will ensure freedom? Where exactly? Tunisia? Yemen ? Syria? Egypt? Iraq may be? All been replaced by fanatic Muslims. so what freedom exactly ? freedom from life may be. Even in Syria, after Assad's collapse we see already who will be in our doorsteps. As we say , dear God send us the medicine, the illness we have already.

mara mcglothin

10/5/2012 3:21:35 PM

Exactly AMERICAN AMERICAN ANd is only a convenience that it also might be in the USA'a best interest as well, SO should anything go wrong they already have some one lined up to blame. DOGAN Exactly how much more freedoms and democracies have we seen so far due to the "ARab Spring"? Unless you are counting sectarian violence as a freedom.
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