Davutoğlu vs. Davutoğlu
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has suddenly decided that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) turned into a threat big enough to be confronted by tank shellings, airstrikes, massive police raids and border walls.
Davutoğlu is like “the most interesting man in the world.” He doesn’t always change his opinions and actions. But when he does, it is spectacular.
The following round-up of evolving developments and Davutoğlu’s statements in the past years may help you understand me better.
Aug. 7, 2014: Davutoğlu, then Turkey’s foreign minister, told journalists that ISIL was merely a result of the “accumulation of anger among alienated Sunni Arabs.” He continued: “ISIL can be seen as a radical, terrorized structure, but there are also Turks, Arabs and Kurds in it. Past grievances and angers created a wide reaction in a large area.”
July 24, 2015: Prime Minister Davutoğlu said: “The attacks of Daesh [a word he now uses instead of ISIL], which we declared a terrorist organization and saw as an obvious threat due to the very negative perception it creates in the Islamic world as well as its destructive effect in Syria, are now on our agenda, clearly, following the Suruç suicide bombing and the killing of our non-commissioned military officer.”
July 30, 2012: While chatting with journalists during an iftar (fast-breaking) dinner in Ankara, Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said the borders between Turkey, Syria and Iran were artificial. “Let’s render these borders unimportant, like they did in Europe,” he suggested.
July 23, 2015: The Davutoğlu government decided to build a 151-kilometer-long wall and dig a 450-kilomter-long moat on its border with Syria. The cost of the new border security measures, including surveillance balloons, drones, thermal cameras and motion sensors, will be around 4.2 billion Turkish Liras. Moreover, the border is currently protected by the largest-ever military deployment in modern Turkey’s history.
July 30, 2012: “If the number of refugees reaches 100,000, it may be needed to host them in Syria. It shouldn’t be expected that Turkey shoulders this burden,” Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said.
June 18, 2015: There are 1.8 million registered Syrian refugees in Turkey, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in an interview with Hürriyet Daily News.
July 23, 2015: After prolonged negotiations with the United States, Turkey accepted to open its İncirlik military air base to the foreign aircraft of the anti-ISIL coalition. Turkish sources said Ankara got what it received in the negotiations, which is a no-fly zone. However, U.S. President Barack Obama’s special envoy for the anti-ISIL fight, General John Allen, denied it. “No. It was not part of the discussion,” he said.
These tidal conversions in Turkey’s Davutoğlu-shaped policies had a good part in what President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described yesterday as “security weakness.”
Swaying from one extreme side, which had led to accusations that Ankara supported ISIL, to another, which seems like spearheading an anti-ISIL military campaign, now sow the seeds of fresh concerns.
Unlike what Ankara still believes, ISIL is not an external threat anymore, as it has already become a domestic problem for Turkey. Furthermore, this terrorist organization, like most others, cannot be eradicated only by military means, even in warzones like Syria.
Facing new challenges, Turkey’s foreign policy needs to return to its realistically balanced tradition and strive for social cohesion at home, because more adventures and sways may have devastating effects on the country.
Dreams of winning an election or praying in a Damascus mosque are not worth this risk.