Are we returning to reality in Syria?

Are we returning to reality in Syria?

I agree with every word Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu recently said in Washington. Relations with the U.S. will not be disrupted because of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).  

I wonder if he only said this to “assume a humble attitude” while in Washington, or if it is the sign of a return to realism in Turkey’s Syria policies… I hope it is the latter…

Unfortunately, our policies in Syria have turned into “a diplomatic Sarıkamış disaster” in recent years. 

Let me put it frankly: As a Turkish citizen who cares about his country, I would prefer the Syrian regime or a secular Kurdish region across our border – rather than the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

To anyone who disagrees, I would like to remind them: The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), only six or seven years ago, opposed a Kurdish region in Iraq as a “red line.” It referred to Massoud Barzani as merely a “tribal head.” 

Today, however, the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq is there in the interest of Turkey. 

We should prepare ourselves mentally. Most probably, the PYD will soon conquer Manbij in Syria and will thus come between ISIL and Turkey. 

We will see once again that there are few concepts that lose their meaning as quickly as “red lines.” In fact, that is not so bad after all… 

Specialized civil courts 

For an academic, is a military regime more dangerous than a “semi-civilian” regime? For an academic, are martial law courts more dangerous than the courts that excel in “anti-terror” cases in oppressive civilian regimes? 

Academics who are around the same age as me will soon know the answer. They will have two examples to compare. 

The first example is from May, 15, 1984. The military regime after the 1980 coup was still ruling. The president was General Kenan Evren. Some 300 intellectuals signed a petition against the regime and left it at the door of the Çankaya Presidential Mansion. A court case was opened into 59 of the signatories. The court was the Martial Law Court. They were tried without arrest. All of them were acquitted. 

The second example is from 2016. Elected authorities are ruling in Turkey. There is no martial law. Some 1,128 intellectuals and academics have signed a petition. Four of them are then arrested.  

In the “anti-democratic race,” by arresting signatories the civilian court in 2016 is already a few steps ahead of the 1984 military regime’s martial law court. But which one will cross the finish line first? Will it be the martial law court of the military regime, or the civil court of the civilian regime? 

It looks like the result will be determined by a photo finish. 

The ‘chorus of bodyguards’ 

Whoever thought of it, whichever advisor came up with it, I would like to sincerely thank them. 

I have not laughed at anything as much as I laughed at the “Oooo aaaaa” chorus of Turkish presidential security personnel in front of the hotel where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was staying in Washington DC. 

A regime that is usually so surly faced became a smiling regime in this way… 

When I watched the video of the security personnel trying to shout down a handful of protestors in Washington I remembered a film I also recently laughed at a lot.  

You know the film. The one about “General Aladeen” starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Kingsley... That one… 

I thought of that film because this scene could easily have been in it. 

But on the serious side, whoever suggested such measures should be dealt with. Turkey does not deserve such tragicomic ugliness, nor does the president.