With Davutoğlu until ‘the end’
The “resignation of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu” has been a popular “theme” among writers and commentators in recent weeks.
On April 29, I said: “Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu is turning into the most ambitious and, by the same ratio, the most unsuccessful foreign minister of the republican era.”
I need to update this, due to the four months that have passed. Mr. Davutoğlu has indeed become the most unsuccessful foreign minister of the republican era. Mr. Minister’s failure is not a prognosis anymore, it is a reality. It is a concrete, measurable phenomenon.
It was clearly seen in the United Nations meeting in New York last Thursday that Davutoğlu’s strategy has collapsed. This strategy involved forcing the international community to form a safe zone in Syria by engineering the refugee crisis, and to topple the Syrian regime this way. Turkey’s demand for a safe zone has not been accepted or supported.
If this is to continue as such, Turkey will be left alone with the refugees it has vacuumed from Syria.
I have consciously selected the expression “vacuum refugees.” In all the crises I have covered as a journalist over more than 25 years, I do not remember any other state being so enthusiastic to receive refugees from a neighboring country.
In normal circumstances, states do not create promoting circumstances for refugees to come from neighboring countries. On the contrary, they would try to deter them. Ours did just the opposite. For example, in April, while there were 25,000 Syrian refugees in a total of eight camps, there was an adequate infrastructure capacity with relative comfort for another 25,000. They were waiting for more Syrians to come. Now, the number of refugees is over 80,000, but in the meantime this policy has collapsed.
Here, the question is a political and ideological stance with “humanitarian packaging.” Nobody should try to fool themselves.
When the number of refugees exceeds Turkey’s accommodating limit, not accepting them will be the only solution and the “humanitarian cover” of the collapsed policy will also explode.
What is needed is to hand over the management of the camps to the United Nations. However, Ankara, which is not acting on humanitarian impulses but rather political ones, does not prefer that either.
In only the month of April, Davutoğlu mentioned “managing the wave of change in the Middle East, having a say in the Middle East, being the pioneer of the regional order.”
For the sake of so called “having a say in the Middle East,” there has been full engagement “to the end” to topple the regime in Syria. Apart from sending troops to Damascus, everything has been done without concerns over legitimacy. This is the essential strategic mistake. There is no caution, caliber or nuance left in Turkish foreign policy.
Meanwhile, the bloody regime in Damascus will indeed collapse anyway, but please, when that day comes, nobody try to present this as if it were the success of the policies of Davutoğlu-Erdoğan.
After the Baath regime collapses, the civil war in Syria will probably continue among sects, and Turkey will be left face to face with the issues listed below, aggravated by the failures based on the extremity and ideological blindness of Davutoğlu-Erdoğan policies:
* A regionalized and further complicated Kurdish issue…
* A terror threat coming from the Shiite axis that Turkey has created itself…
* Sunni-Alevi tension, the outcome of which will be against the Alevis…
* Instability and restlessness in the southern province of Hatay…
We could make the list longer.
Even in the event that these circumstances occur, I do not think Prime Minister Erdoğan will force Davutoğlu to resign. So long as he does not quit himself, that is…
The Erdoğan we know will never let go of Davutoğlu, because he knows this act will mean nothing less than a denial of his own self, and amount to a confession of the collapse of their principal policies.
The elimination of Davutoğlu would be the spiritual collapse of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
There is no “end of the road” for Davutoğlu alone. Nevertheless, there are no means of a return from the damage of the deep strategic collapse of foreign policy.
“The end,” wherever that is, is being approached together with Davutoğlu. Unfortunately, we are all approaching that together.
Kadri Gürsel is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which the unabridged version of this article was published September 3. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.