Applause for Davutoğlu…
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu must be congratulated for being courageous enough to confess that Turkey has failed in its policies regarding Syria. It is not at all easy for a politician to admit failure of any sort. Davutoğlu has been often accused by opponents of mixing up academia and politics and trying to bend political realities to fit his “strategic depth” theory. His brave declaration of failure, anyhow, showed that he must still possess some degree of academic ethical values.
The confession came in an interview with France 24 channel. Unaware of the preparations in Paris by the new Socialist Francois Hollande presidency of France to rehash the Armenian genocide legislation, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is so happy with the political demise of Nikolas Sarkozy that it has started talking of a “new era” in Turkish French ties. The France 24 interview was probably arranged to further accelerate the warming up in Turkish-French ties.
The minister, of course, was talking in a totally different context. He accepted “failure” in bringing an end to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. Is it Turkey’s duty, or is it compatible with international law, for neighboring or brotherly countries to dictate to each other what kind of government they should have? Has the world, for the sake of the “right to protect,” brushed aside completely the terms of the Westphalian code of conduct?
Anyhow, it was good to see the foreign minister conceding, albeit insufficiently, that his approaches on Syria have failed. Unfortunately, under Davutoğlu Turkey has engaged in a hasty foreign policy adventure without making any sort of cost analysis, without basing strategies on the reality on the ground or the potential course of developments.
Turkey started with a “zero problems” with neighbors strategy, but ended up having no friends around. Trying to find excuses in the “but conditions have changed” cliché is unfortunately not enough. If conditions have changed, what are your alternate strategies to take our nose away from the mess? Obviously, the strategic depth doctrine was an academic work that failed in the field application. Forcing results obtained in the field to conform the doctrine can best be summed up with two words: Academic obsession. This is a very serious condition.
Unfortunately, Turkey made a very serious mistake in Syria. It thought that, as in Libya the regime would collapse quickly and would be replaced with the AKP’s “brothers” the Muslim Brotherhood. The “Sunni brotherhood” was instrumental in embracing Sudan’s bloodthirsty dictator Omar al-Bashir, but Bashar al-Assad was only an “Alawite brother.”
The end result: Yesterday Turkey was the “leading power” of the region aspiring to become a “regional big brother,” but today it has become a country whose reconnaissance plane can be downed. The rising power of yesterday is today a fragile and unpredictable country…
Sparing words regarding the failure in ties with Israel, and without forgetting his major share in the mess Turkey is landed in, Davutoğlu definitely deserves a standing ovation for at least confessing that the Syria policies of the AKP government have failed.