Miracles under the Crescent and Star
No doubt, what is going on in Syria is a tragedy. But what is going on in Iraq is also a tragedy; and what went on in Sudan until 2005 was an even bigger tragedy. For obvious reasons, the deaths in Iraq or Sudan have not touched any human nerve in Turkey.
On the contrary, the man responsible for crimes against humanity, with an international arrest warrant on his neck, has always been a welcome guest in Turkey. Unless they have invented a time machine, the Turkish bigwigs will never be able to convince anyone older than four that they are seeking justice, peace and universal compassion in Syria. Those who genuinely care about human lives cannot have a selective list of victims chosen on a religious and/or sectarian basis.
Ask your local Justice and Development Party (AKP) propagandist: Fine, we should bomb Damascus (and kill more Syrians). But shall we, at the same time, bomb Sudan? What about Bahrain? The extremist hideouts in Mali? The Congo? How do we share the job? Turkish jets off to Mali and the Congo, Americans over Syrian skies, and Russians over Bahrain? Your selectively-humane Turkish Islamist will only ask you to bomb Damascus and Cairo, for reasons all too obvious.
Just when I think the AKP’s increasingly childish but cutely entertaining propaganda machinery could not produce anything more absurd, there is always a new - and sometimes bigger - shot. Before I could overcome my laughter at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s famous “We-are-against-foreign-intervention-in-Syria,” his top political advisor, Yalçın Akdoğan, left everyone speechless: “[Al-Assad] could wish to win support from Arab countries by creating further polarization [tensions] with Israel. This trap should be avoided.”
I had to read that line a dozen times - and recall another advisor’s murder-by-telekinesis theory - before I was convinced that Mr. Erdoğan’s chief advisor really said what he said. Who would have guessed that, one day, Mr. Erdoğan’s men would be complaining of traps set to create tension with Israel in order to win Arab hearts and minds? Not this columnist. With this pace of events, we may one day see Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuoğlu accusing Greece of trying to revive the Ottoman Empire.
But the jaw-dropping miracles Turkey’s foreign policy calculus has created against the background of the Middle East quagmire know simply no limits. For instance, would Messrs Erdoğan and Davutoğlu prefer to be facing a chemical Syria today, or a chemical-plus-nuclear one? If they prefer the former, why did Ankara find Israel’s 2007 airstrike on a Syrian nuclear reactor “totally unacceptable”?
Speaking of miracles, is it not another miracle that an accusation directed at Israel has, probably for the first time in history, been collectively rejected by the Arab world? See how Mr. Erdoğan’s much beloved Arab Street abruptly rebuffed his allegations that the July coup in Cairo had been plotted by Israel. For that, Ankara deserves a prize for uniting the always disunited Arab world, and extra credit for uniting the Arab nations in defense of Israel.
All the same, one particular Turkish miracle remains matchless. Four years after the Crescent and Star set sails to have zero problems with its neighbors and hoped to become the oriental Germany of a Middle Eastern Coal and Steel Community, it is in an increasingly warm cold war with Iran and Egypt, threatened by a chemical attack from Syria, its nationals are the most popular target of abductions in Lebanon, its diplomatic mission was recently bombed in Somalia and one of its consulate vehicles was more recently attacked in northern Iraq.
After all, there are not be too many “world powers” around with no ambassadors in Syria, Egypt (until yesterday) and Israel at the same time, and a semi-demi-wanted one in Iraq.