Strange logic from Islamists on Syria

Strange logic from Islamists on Syria

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have made it no secret that they want what they refer to as the “international community,” but which in fact means “the West,” to deal a deadly blow to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

It is not hard to imagine their anger and frustration therefore when the so-called “coalition of the willing,” which was supposed to be assembled against al-Assad, petered out before it was even formed and turned into “the coalition of the reluctant.”

But even if “the coalition of the willing” is established, the United States, Britain and France, the three countries that were expected to lead it, made it clear that their aim is not to topple al-Assad. It is becoming increasingly apparent that these countries prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know. 

Put another way, the fear in the West continues to be that if al-Assad is toppled in a disorderly way, there is no telling who will take over in that country. This fear has been amplified due to the fact that all the Arab Spring has achieved thus far is to bring radical Islamists to the foreground. 

Some form of strike against al-Assad is of course still on the agenda and could come after today’s G-20 summit. But its aim will be punitive and not destructive. In other words, al-Assad will get a slap on the wrist and be told not to use chemical weapons again. Other than that, it is clear that the West wants him to hold on to these weapons because it is worried that they might fall into the hands of al-Qaeda-linked groups.

All of this is totally out of tune with Erdoğan’s wishes and expectations, of course. He has become so obsessed with al-Assad that he is not even bothered about the contradiction of calling on the same West he constantly vilifies to bomb a Muslim country. Not surprisingly, Turkish Islamists have either started turning against him, or are confused about what stance to take because of this. This can clearly be seen in commentaries in dailies like Zaman or Yeni Şafak. 

Meanwhile, President Abdullah Gül is saying that a military intervention in Syria without a political strategy is bound to end badly. Gül obviously has a better understanding of the situation than either Erdoğan or Davutoğlu. Erdoğan and Davutoğlu are saying in effect, “Get rid of al-Assad and we will worry about what comes next after that.” 

They also appear to have a fantastic notion that once al-Assad is gone, democracy is going to come to Syria. Sadly for them, it is amply clear at this stage that things are not going to work out the way they want. The key question in all this, however, concerns not just Turkey but also those Arab countries that are equally keen to see the West get rid of al-Assad for them. 

If they are so keen, why don’t they do it themselves? This question was also asked by a British Conservative MP on Al-Jazeera last week, after the British Parliament refused to endorse an operation against Syria. 

Despite all the moralizing – not just from the Turkish government, but also from countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar – about “Western inaction over Syria,” these countries are not prepared to bloody their hands to save the lives in Syria they shed so many tears over. Is this not hypocrisy?

İbrahim Karagül, the editor-in-chief of the pro-government Yeni Şafak, wrote in his column last week that it was “impossible” – to use his word – for Islamic countries of the region to mount an operation for Syria among themselves. It is not clear why it is “impossible” given that there are countries in the region with strong militaries and advanced weapons obtained from the West. 

Karagül concluded his commentary by damning al-Assad for leaving them – i.e. Islamists – with no choice but to support a U.S.-led operation against Syria. This is truly strange logic. 

Syria continues to shatter the dreams of Islamists, leading them into moral dilemmas they have no real answers or solutions to.