The cost is increasing
Will the Syria civil war end within the next few weeks, before the winter sets in? According to Turkey’s policy planners, the days of the Baathist regime of Syria have always been numbered and the fall has always been coming in a very short period of time. Somehow, the same policy planners have been making almost identical forecasts for the past 18 months of the Syrian tragedy.
Obviously, such shortsighted and unrealistic assessments unfortunately lack reason and logic, but they are all based on the emotional great expectations of the Sunni local collaborators in the “Arab Spring” phase of the Greater Middle East and North Africa conspiracy. With tales of moving on to democracy in the region having been set on fire, dictatorships are being replaced with replacement totalitarian regimes, this time enforced with theocratic Muslim brotherhood mentality.
Somehow, however, the Sunni brotherhood carrying the entire geography to “advanced democratic governance” has failed to make any advances in Bahrain. The international community turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the Bahraini developments, but let me remind you: the uprising was crushed with Saudi military intervention. Why? Because, in Bahrain, it was not the Sunnis, but rather the Shiites that were challenging the sheikhdom.
The cost of the “spring” in Turkey has reached such dimensions, however, that frustrated with the “left alone” syndrome, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has started confessing that he was wrong in expecting generous international support for Turkey’s “humanitarian” and “generous” assistance to the Syrian rebels. That was what he lamented about at the U.N. last week. Turkey has already spent 300 million dollars to accommodate some 80,000 Syrian refugees. The Syria bill of Turkey, as well as the number of refugees, will unfortunately double or perhaps triple in the weeks ahead. Turkey, on the other hand, is no longer as enthusiastic as it was during the times when Davutoğlu carried in his luggage millions of dollars to buy the loyalty of Libya’s rebels, lost in the Libyan contest to France and Britain…
What indeed has been the cost of the “Arab Spring” on the Turkish treasury, putting aside the billions lost in direct trade, as well as trade through the troubled territories with third countries? Spending 300 million dollars on refugees and other “humanitarian” assistance to Syrian rebels, is of course peanuts for an economy like Turkey. Besides, through many discreet ways, the Saudi, Qatari and American friends of Turkey were probably assisting Ankara.
The real cost, however, is not the money spent, but rather the spillover effects on the Turkish economy, stability, security and territorial, national integrity. Turks are fed up with news of scores of sons falling victim to separatist terrorism every other day. Concerns are increasing about the day-after impacts, irrespective of what course Syria developments eventually might take. Will Syria and Iraq manage to preserve their integrity? What will happen to Iran? Will Turkey manage to preserve its integrity in the midst of such volatility in the region?
Bashing Davutoğlu has become a fashion. However, was Davutoğlu alone in drafting and implementing the failed policies that rightfully earned him the “worst-ever Turkish foreign minister” title? Should Turkey sacrifice him and continue on the adventure? Would it make any difference?
The time, perhaps, has come to make a realistic cost analysis and set Turkish foreign policy on a new course.