How are we going to look Aleppo in the face?
Watching the evening news on television, I saw the U.S. Permanent Representative in the U.N., Samantha Power, in the carefree and relaxed mood of a university campus student, attacking Iran, Russia and Syria: “Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin?”
The next day, the “rebellious student” suddenly returned to a diplomat’s style. This is because new deals call for new styles. “Now Aleppo is evacuated, there are only terrorists left there,” she was saying. She was quite calm. She was quite confident that the city had been evacuated. But it certainly did not look that way.
There is one constant in the 21st century: People are not as sleepy as they used to be.
I don’t know how we started our Aleppo policy or how we are continuing it. Indeed, this column is not the place to discuss how we have approached to issue and what we can do in the parts of Syria full of Turkmens.
But we can touch on the tragedy going on in Syria. The city of Aleppo, with its marketplaces, mosques and Islamic lodges, used to be such an important center that even major Ottoman cities such as Antep and Urfa were administratively inferior in the upper Mesopotamia region.
It is hard to find a city as historically harmonious and cosmopolitan as Aleppo anywhere in the world. For instance, the Aleppo Castle is a key symbol of engineering and beauty. Such a beautiful castle cannot be found anywhere else. However, today Aleppo is not known for its architectural features but rather for the human tragedy suffered by its people.
How will people return there and how are we going to look into the face of Aleppo after everything that has happened?
How will Aleppo locals return to their city? Who knows when we will be able to restore its historic mosques, baths, the great Ottoman bazaar and dervish lodges?
We should ask ourselves what we have done against the barbarians who have shamelessly destroyed these things. We had to reach an agreement with some of them and we had to confront some of the others. It is difficult to solve an equation with three unknowns, but we should have focused more on the wisdom of some of our more senior diplomats.
You can drive from the Turkish border cities of Hatay or Kilis and reach Aleppo in just 45 minutes. We might just play a leading role in the rehabilitation of Aleppo after the war is finally over.
Aleppo has never been an enemy of Turkey in any historic era. It is a modest but wonderful place. It is simple but strikingly beautiful. It has preserved its own rituals, which you can see even when you step into the most regular restaurant in the bazaar. In Aleppo’s culinary arts, handicrafts, and in its markets of limestone, where countless different languages are spoken, you can see that the city represents many different civilizations at the same time.
Aleppo locals, regardless of their religion or language, have always been kind and hospitable people.