A bleeding safe haven

A bleeding safe haven

Speaking at an investors forum in The Hague, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkey was a safe haven for investors. If the prime minister was not joking or referring to another country that goes by the same name, his understanding of what is and what is not “safe” must be quite eccentric.

Never mind the toxic polarization that has made half the population the enemy of the other half. Half the population views the other half not just as “different” but as “the traitor.” That’s the new normal in the “safe haven.”

Several cities, towns and districts in parts of the “safe haven” look like Gaza or Aleppo. Mr. Davutoğlu’s government often boasts to be engaging in wars with a multitude of terrorist organizations, not just the one that fights the government and makes several cities, towns and districts look like Gaza or Aleppo. A safe haven that is also fertile ground for a multitude of terror groups?

Prosecutors and judges keep running after “terrorists” disguised as journalists, businessmen, academics and writers. But they hardly worry that millions of Turks who say that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is NOT a terrorist organization and walk free on the streets of safe haven Turkey.

When jihadist suicide bombers do not kill Turks or tourists en masse on busy city squares, leftist guerrillas fire at Islamist newspapers and other targets and when they remain quiet, pro-government thugs attack newspapers and journalists critical of the government.

In 2015, the safe haven of Turkey boasted four murders a day on average. It also boasts one of Europe’s highest rates of fatal road accidents. Domestic violence is a national pastime.

Since August 2014 when Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected president of the country, more than 1,300 people have been investigated or prosecuted for insulting him. A joke, a tweet or a speech that may be deemed not nice enough can cost anyone, including a careless investor in the safe haven, several months behind bars. Remember the rule is to first punish dissent and then put it on trial.

Turkey the safe haven is at war with half the world, from cold to not-so-cold, warm and warmer, including even the United Nations. President Erdoğan has never hidden his dislike of the U.N. Security Council. More recently he asked the U.N.: “Are you mocking us?”

Turkey may be at a “tactical and temporary” peace with Iraq’s Kurds, but it is at war with its own and Syria’s Kurds.

In its region, Turkey is the only country that does not have ambassadorial-level (or any) diplomatic relations with Armenia, Cyprus, Israel, Syria, Egypt and Libya. It is at a proxy war with the Shiite and Shiite-dominated governments in Tehran and Baghdad.
Not enough adrenaline. These days, Mr. Davutoğlu may specifically enjoy to recall the famous dictum of Roman historian and senator Tacitus: “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.”
If he is not bluffing, he looks too keen to launch a Sunni offensive, together with Saudi Arabia, into the Syrian quagmire where the Sunni alliance would engage an assortment of colorful enemies: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, Shiite militia from Iran and Lebanon, Syrian Kurds, ISIL’s jihadists (in order to embolden less radical jihadists) and, most notably, Russia. Fortunately, that would be “too extremely great and noble” even for Mr. Davutoğlu’s standards.
No doubt, Mr. Davutoğlu believes that he represents the present-day, neo-Ottoman reincarnation of the Tacitusian understanding of greatness and nobility over safety. All the same, he should watch out. He rather looks like a man on a ladder who often leans back to admire his work.