The crime and its punishment
The whole Syrian affair deserves to be defined as a “crime against humanity.” The “intervention in Iraq” was another one, even if the chief conspirators, George W. Bush and Tony Blair, were able to get away with it given that they were the leaders of two powerful countries. After “he lied and they died,” Blair not only claimed “to be accountable only to God,” but keeps trying to reinvent himself, first as an envoy to the Middle East and now as an architect of “progressive center” politics. If English hadn’t borrowed the Yiddish word “chutzpah,” it would have been very difficult to define his behavior. Although the truth about the Syrian affair has not been revealed yet, it has become clear that it is another grave political scandal. In fact, Russia’s Vladimir Putin told a part of the inconvenient truth that “there are no moderates fighting in Syria,” but since Russia is also heavily involved in Syria, he doesn’t appear to have the courage to say more.
The fact that the Syrian regime is authoritarian should not have legitimized the mobilization of radical Islamist groups to infiltrate the country to remove the Bashar al-Assad regime and trigger a civil war. After all, the best thing the Barack Obama administration did was to finally refrain from further military interference, and the best thing about the recent U.S. elections was the failure of Hillary Clinton to become president and pursue an interventionist policy in Syria. It is a shame and another expression of chutzpah that some foreign policy circles in the U.S. are still trying to lobby for the provision of military support for the so-called moderate opposition.
At the beginning of the so-called “Syrian revolt,” Turkey was pressured by its Western allies to join the club of interventionists and take an active role. Nevertheless, it did not take long for Turkey’s governing party to be convinced about engaging or indulging in the Syrian affair. Our Islamist governing party had much at stake in joining the march; they thought the patronage of Sunni groups would seal Turkey’s regional role and hinder Kurdish efforts to gain autonomy in northern Syria. Nonetheless, it turned out to be a grave miscalculation, especially after the Western policy proved to be futile and Turkey’s allies changed their policies concerning Syria. Turkey ended up with millions of Syrian refugees, a loss of regional prestige and initiative and last but not the least, the appearance of an alliance between Turkey’s Western friends and its Kurdish foes. Finally, things got so bad for Turkey’s rulers that they had to appeal to Russia less than a year after Turkey shot down a Russian plane on the Syrian border. Turkey not only had to submit to Russian economic sanctions, but also had to seek Russian compliance to restrict Kurdish advances in northern Syria. Moreover, Turkey’s rulers needed to compensate for the loss of Western friendship with that of Russia.
It’s no wonder that Islamist circles do not dare challenge the Russian military mission in Syria even though Russia is the most powerful backer of the al-Assad regime. Even the president who admitted that “we went to Syria to remove al-Assad” had to correct his words in a very short span of time. As Aleppo is being devastated by heavy bombardment, our Islamist government is celebrating commercial deals with Russia and considering using local currencies (the Turkish Lira and the Russian ruble in this case) instead of dollars as a panacea for the rise of the dollar’s value and concomitant economic crises.
Nobody talks of the noble mission of “removing the dictator of Syria” anymore. The talk about the Turkmens of northern Syria is more a risky topic, since it hearkens back to the fact that it was a Turkish fighter who went to Syria to support the Turkmen brethren that killed one of the Russian pilots after the plane was shot down. It was not only the Islamist government, but also its nationalist allies, that forgot about solidarity with the Turkmens after Russian bombardment swept them from the Turkish mountain in northern Syria.
At the end of the day, it is Syria and Syrians who have paid the price for another great but futile adventure in the Middle East. That is why all those who are involved in this adventure are responsible for a crime against humanity. Under the global current political circumstances, many of those who are responsible may avoid punishment, but so far, Turkey has not been able to avoid impunity.