Family business (I)

Family business (I)

Press reports say that the nine Turkish suspects held by the police have confessed to the twin bombings in Reyhanlı which killed 50 civilians, including children; that they had acted as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s mercenaries; and that they were linked with the Syrian intelligence and its front-line armed groups. Another reason to bomb Syria.

In the span of a year, Turkey has lost 64 civilian lives and two military jet pilots, along with their reconnaissance aircraft, all in Syria-related and not completely resolved mysteries of armed conflict. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan argues that, 1- Turkey won’t be drawn into Syria’s civil war; 2- Turkey cannot ignore the babies “the butcher and killer” Assad has murdered and revise its Syria policy, and 3- “Great states” retaliate more powerfully, but when the time is right.

1-It’s too late; Turkey is already at war, 2- The prime minister’s passion for the well-being of Syrian babies deserves praise, but it also adds Turkish babies to the unpleasant list of toddler casualties, and 3- Well, we are not exactly dining at the Rules in Covent Garden; in this Middle Eastern restaurant, the Turkish losses so far could just be an assortment of mezes before the heavier dishes of the main course, to be followed by more dishes and then sweets – but of course all halal and no alcohol will be served.

Sadly, “we are a great state and will retaliate more powerfully when the time is right” but this thinking and commitment can bring more misfortunes. Great states can admit fault, adjust policies and, more importantly, also do ask themselves how they could possibly have missed shipments of tons of explosives into their countries.

There is improvement, though, in the quality of government language especially when one thinks of direct accusations of a foreign country’s secret police for the acts of terror and vague words a few years earlier. When the Kurdish violence was at its seasonal peak in 2011, then deputy prime minister (presently parliament speaker) Cemil Çiçek had blamed “foreign powers” for the escalation of violence in the southeast, although his wording could earn him a nomination for the Speech Apraxia Award: “We know who they are… Those who know who they are know who they are… And they know it’s them.”

Yes, after the typically Middle Eastern attack on the civilian population in Reyhanlı, we know who they are. Though we are not sure if those who know who they are know who they are. But in any case, it’s up to them to know it’s them!

In the violent and hot summer of 2011, a columnist for the Tehran Times, a newspaper no more independent from the Mullahs than several newspapers are from Mr Erdoğan’s government, had written: “So how can Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticize the Syrian government for attacking armed terrorist groups while Turkey is conducting such massive operations in response to a few attacks by some PKK insurgents?” It was the days when, after Turkish air raids into northern Iraq, a local mayor told Reuters that the air strike hit a car carrying civilians and killed seven, including two children.

All of which prompted this columnist to conclude: “The Middle East is a slippery surface: too slippery to ideologically rely on faith- or sect-based alliances or faith-based enmity… With already 40,000 graves in its backyard, Turkey should have been the last country to fall for the orientalist my-terrorist-is-bad-but-your-terrorist-is-good game which it despised for decades.

“Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu should have a moment of peace, sit down and rethink the real depth of his theoretical ‘strategic depth.’” (Turkey’s ‘house of glass,’ Hurriyet Daily News, Aug. 25, 2011).