Are Iran and Russia allies of Turkey?
A chemical attack last week that hit Syria’s Douma district, which is under siege by the forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime, killed 80 people including children. Some 200 people were also injured.
Western countries have accused the al-Assad regime as being responsible for the attack. But a day after the attack Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blasted the West. “Unfortunately children were martyred in Eastern Ghouta. Hey, the West, where are you? You remain silent but you raised your voice when we killed terrorists in Afrin,” he said.
Who did it?
First of all, the region that came under attack is under siege by al-Assad’s forces. In February, the same forces bombed civilians in Eastern Ghouta. Russia blocked the U.S’s attempt for a ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta and turned it into a Syria-wide ceasefire, but this ceasefire really only remained on paper.
It should be recalled at this point that French President Emmanuel Macron recently noted that “without Russia’s permission not a single plane is able to fly in Syria.” And now Russia claims that there was no chemical attack at all in Douma!
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump recently declared his intention to withdraw from Syria. So why would al-Assad commit the kind of act that could prompt the U.S to revise its decision to leave and make him look guilty? Is it possible that some other organization carried out the attack? We will only know that once impartial technical reports based on facts on the ground are able to be conducted and released.
The West’s reaction
The West has strongly reacted to the Douma attack. The U.S, the U.K. and France all protested Syria at the United Nations Security Council. The U.S. is likely to strike some of al-Assad’s military facilities. Meanwhile, Iran and Russia continue to unconditionally support the Syrian regime.
So why did Erdoğan blast “the West” in the speech he delivered on April 8? He has been at odds with the West in recent years, and most recently the West’s reaction against Turkey’s military operation in Afrin has angered Ankara.
Turkey was only able to carry out that Afrin operation because Russia opened up airspace there for it. Turkey is thus in cooperation with Iran and Russia in Syria, and if this cooperation falters the Afrin operation could be put at risk.
Another reason why Erdoğan reacted against the West is the fact that many Western countries vocally champion “human rights.” Is China,
Russia, or any Middle Eastern country expected to show sensitivity when a humanitarian catastrophe hits anywhere in the world?
Authoritarian regimes that ignore human rights in their own countries only look at humanitarian disasters through the prism of their strategic interests. Russia’s stance on Syria is a clear example of such an attitude.
Of course, Europe and the U.S. are also concerned with their own interests, but at least in the West various civil society groups are deeply concerned about human rights. On the issue of Gaza and Jerusalem, for example, Europe has voiced positions closer to Turkey than Saudi Arabia.
Just consider the European Court of Human Rights. Does the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have such an institution?
We should always keep in mind that Turkey is cooperating with Russia and Iran in Syria, but the real ally of Moscow and Tehran is al-Assad. Most recently they have stressed that Turkey should hand over Afrin to al-Assad once Ankara’s work is done there.
So while Turkey reacts against the West’s supposedly unfair attitude, it must never become dependent on Russia and Iran. As our history shows, Turkey should continue to be an “ally” of the West and a “friend” of Russia and Iran. That is the right policy for the country.