MUSTAFA AKYOL > ‘No to war,’ yes to slaughter?

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I was strolling in Istanbul’s Taksim square the other day till I came across a group of protestors yelling, “No to war!” Heading under the banners of the People’s Republican Party (CHP), Turkey’s main opposition, this was a colorful group of Kemalists, secular nationalists and old fashioned communists. With fists in the air, they were protesting the “war scheme” of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP). Their posters condemned the Tayyip Erdoğan government as an “American puppet” and “subcontractor of Obama.”

All in all, this was a very self-righteous group. As the promoters of “peace,” they apparently saw themselves on the moral side of history. In my view, however, they were tragically wrong. They, in fact, were disturbingly immoral.

Here is why: These protestors in question, who passionately protest the Turkish government’s hardening on the Syrian regime, have never condemned the atrocities of the same regime. The thugs of Bashar Assad have bombed entire cities, slaughtered clans and families, and tortured women and children. But they never spoke against that. They rather condemned the AKP government, “the Islamists,” the NATO, “the CIA,” and other popular figures of Turkey’s wildly insane yet madly popular conspiracy theories.

This reminds me of the mid 90’s, when similar “peace activists” opposed the bombing of Serbian Chetniks, the bloodthirsty murderers who were busy with raping, torturing and slaughtering the Bosnian Muslims. When NATO, in a tragically-belated operation, finally bombed Serbian targets in 1995, the same “peace activists” rallied the streets to condemn “American imperialism.” Their “peace-lovingness” also had led them to impose an arms embargo on former Yugoslavia, with the practical result of leaving the Bosnians defenseless against a colossal Serbian war machine. With their apparent pacifism, in other words, these activists had only become implicit supporters of slaughter.

The arguments we hear these days from Turkey’s “peace activists” are similarly foul. They keep on defending “Syria’s sovereignty,” which basically means that all tyrants should have the right to slaughter their own populations while the world should not “interfere” in their “domestic affairs.” Or they condemn the Syrian opposition for including “foreign fighters,” while the communists among them are hypocritically proud of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), in which their comrades from all over the world united to fight Franco’s fascism. (Foreign fighters are heroes only when they are Marxists, in other words, but they are evil when they are Islamists.)

Kurdophobia, as one the main pillars of Kemalism, is also at play here. For most opponents of the AKP policy on Syria condemn the “Kurdish entity” that is emerging in Turkey’s south. As in their stance against Iraqi Kurdistan, they see any Kurdish presence on earth as a danger to Turkey, whereas the AKP sees Kurds as potential friends and considers only the PKK (the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, a terrorist group) as enemy.

None of this means that Turkey should launch a war against the Syrian regime, which is not the intention of the Turkish government anyway, as Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan openly said. But Turkey is, and will remain as, a strong supporter of the Syrian opposition, and will continue to retaliate against possible acts of aggression from the Syrian regime. The motion passed this Thursday in the Turkish Parliament, which gives the government a one-year mandate authorizing the military to use ground troops for cross-border military operations into Syria, only underlines Ankara’s determination.

Despite my growing disillusionment with the AKP’s domestic policies, I am solidly in favor of this “hawkish” policy on Syria. For I believe that we Turks bear a moral responsibility to our Syrian neighbors, who are suffering horribly to get the freedom they deserve. We cannot forsake them to please the delusions of our mindless “peace activists.”


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Notice on comments

Hasan Kutlay

10/9/2012 1:22:40 AM

The reality is that the majority of the Turkish people don't want war. You can call them "kemalists", "lefties", "communists" or whatever you want, but the reality is that the MAJORITY of Turkish people don't want war. This time your biased and partisan mantra doesn't make it, because DEFINITELLY there are not-kemalists, not-communists, not-lefties against war, for the last time: the MAJORITY of Turkish people is against war.

american american

10/8/2012 10:11:41 PM

blue, my point was just that. a defector. and especially on tv, is not the most valid of sources.

Jon Goodfellow

10/8/2012 8:44:20 PM

Amen, Mustafa, for your comments about the "peace activists" who demonstrated while the West dithered and many friends and colleagues were murdered in Sarajevo. I for one have never forgotten their stupidity.

Blue Dotterel

10/8/2012 2:49:07 PM

@American, the Iraqi defector that Cheney cited was Saddam's son-in-law who told US intelligence in the mid-90s about a secret nuclear weapons program but added that Saddam had destroyed all weapons in 1991. Cheney left out the second part when making his case in August of 2002. The Bush admin. knew that Saddam did not have WMD. They knew Saddam was not involved in 9/11. They lied. They aggressively attacked a sovereign state under false pretenses, killing over a 100,000. They are war criminals.

american american

10/8/2012 12:04:21 AM

ilker an iraqi 'defector' gave america 'intelligence' showing iraq had wmds. guess you can't blame us for info we got from an 'easterner'

ilker avni

10/7/2012 6:23:01 PM

@mara The West gave Saddam the chemical weapons because Saddam was loseing the war with Iran.the same gas used to murder millions of jewish people by Hitler,was given to Saddam,which he used to murder thousands of our Kurdish brothers.The west was just as guilty dont you think..

mara mcglothin

10/7/2012 4:53:45 PM

REDTAIL You cannot reason with stupidity! When those people got killed in Iraq, it was simply a mass plot perpetrated by George Bush in order to start a war. Sadaam was Noel Baba, didn't you know? And Assad and his Father before him always worked as elves.

ilker avni

10/7/2012 4:46:33 PM

,I saw you on Al Jazeera to day (Thought your take on things were spot on you were great mate),regarding the Turkish israeli relations how they sowered over the years.I agree israel lost a very good frend in Turkey,how Israel is becoming a major threat.Allso according to Al Jazeera a defector aid of Assad said Assad gave orders for the fireing across the border,he wants to drag Turkey into a war before he leaves for Russia where Putin has readed 300 apartments for his family,(hope its Siberia)


10/7/2012 4:23:49 PM

Protesting war is never disturbingly immoral. I know these people though. For them there is a Western or better yet a USA conspiracy behind any development anywhere. They are always angry and unhappy and there is always someone else to blame. Little ability for analytic thinking. They are belivers of the myths they create. In fact the protest is the goal itself no matter what is being protested. I know them well, I went to school with them and many are my friends.

ilker avni

10/7/2012 4:22:23 PM

@Red tail The answer to your question is,I would do what Ataturk did ,and send all these Clerics to they maker.All evil men belong in hell,Saddam didnt kill 300,000 all by himself have you forgotton where or who supplied Saddam with chemical weapons,yes thats right his frends in the west.Germany used then the same gas to kill thousands of Kurdish brothers that killed Jews during world war two.The Middle east is dieased with these mad Clerics ruleing over the people,or useing relgion to rukle.
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