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YUSUF KANLI

yusuf.kanli@hurriyet.com.tr

YUSUF KANLI > Iran, Turkey, Lebanon and beyond

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Irrespective of how much we bury our heads in the sand like ostriches, we fool only ourselves: Turkey’s foreign policy is a shambles, and stinks very badly. What started as a “zero problems with neighbors” strategy has become a “no friends in the neighborhood” strategy. Such has been the outstanding success of the academic foreign minister since he was elevated from “chief advisor” to his cabinet position.

This is no longer a secret, although Turkey continues to officially deny it: The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is headquartered at a Reyhanlı camp, provided by Turkey. The Turkish government wants Turks to act like ostriches, turn their heads in some other direction and not read the reports in the Turkish and international media, including statements from the Syrian former officers and generals who are now heading the Syrian rebel army that they are thankful for the assistance Turkey has been providing them with. They are being trained at the Reyhanlı rebel headquarters by Turkish officers. The camp is under tight security; even foreign diplomats have no access. Somehow, rebel Syrian commanders are giving media interviews in the nearby town of Reyhanlı, however, and revealing all the details that the Turkish government has been trying to hide from Turks.

Can it serve any good purpose to provide missiles to the Syrian rebels? Who are they? They are the people who are killing captured Syrian soldiers even more brutally than the dictator they opposed. Scenes of summary executions by the rebel army are pouring out of Syria. But still, they are the good terrorists, as preferred to a bad dictator, who was a “brother” worthy of co-chairing joint cabinet meetings just yesterday.

Everything that has been happening is part of a far bigger plan, which when completed will have some very serious effects on the altered borders of the entire region. Of course increased terrorist activity in Turkey is one price of its active support for the Syrian rebels. The government may continue lambasting everyone who criticizes it. Turkey may as well declare Syria’s alleged support for the separatist terrorist gang [the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK] a casus belli. Syrian support for the separatist gang, though nothing new, would not be a sane development, but wasn’t it [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan who loved the Arabic proverb “Man dakka dukka” (If you knock on doors, they will knock on your door also) so much?

Now Turkey has been “trying to convince” the Americans that there is need to establish a “buffer zone” in Syria, because Turkey can no longer afford the burden of the refugee camps. In the absence of a UN mandate, wouldn’t that buffer zone in fact amount to an occupation of Syrian territory? Wouldn’t that be the first step in turning the Syrian crisis into a regional war?

What do we want in Syria? A pro-government pundit was saying on television that only Turkey has a Syria strategy, no other country, including the U.S., has a policy on developments there. Really? What is that policy?

Turkey has long been a party to the Syrian crisis, which at this point can only be prevented from turning step-by-step into a regional war by a miraculous development. For some time Turkey has been fuming over the Iranian chief of staff’s statement that “Turkey will be next.” That statement was of course incorrect: Next will be Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, and beyond, all together.

August/24/2012

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