Small state, big hearts

Small state, big hearts

It is not, of course, the smallest, but Kuwait is neither one of the biggest countries in the world. It has a small population of less than 3.5 million people – that is, it has a population far less than that of Ankara. Yet, thanks to its oil wealth, Kuwait is one of the richest countries in the world and Kuwaitis have sufficient generosity to spend a portion of that wealth for charity. The first International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria was such a success that with the call of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah will be hosting today the second conference. The U.N. secretary-general and a large group of international dignitaries headed by American Secretary of State John Kerry are expected to attend the summit.

Turkey has been doing everything possible to help restrict human sufferings in Syria. There are over 800,000 refugees on Turkish territory – with the unregistered, the number is estimated to be well over one million – Turkey has been extending precious “logistical” support to Syrian “opponents.” Yet, there is a huge number of displaced people within Syria, leave alone more than two million refugees in Lebanon and Jordan… Particularly, children and women are suffering most from the ongoing tragedy which, sorry to say Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, cannot be terminated with lofty rhetoric.

Was it because of the current internal strife between the “elected” and “non-elected” political Islam, I cannot say for sure, but reports of ammunition, howitzers or arms of all sorts loaded trucks at the Turkish-Syrian border region must be an alarming sign for anyone with some brains. At least three such trucks were “captured” and “allowed to continue” for this or that reason over the past year. Should the Turkish intelligence be allowed to continue such covert operations in the area even though its operations were long unveiled by other intelligent services operating in the area? After all, is it indeed in Turkey’s best interest to carry weapons and ammunition, and thus, in a way, pour fuel on the fire in Syria?

Is it indeed correct that a sizeable portion of the around 80,000 “Islamist opposition fighters” operating in Syria are indeed Turks, Turkmens, Azeris or Chechens? War is a serious destabilizing factor for Syria and beyond. Look at what’s happening in Iraq. Ending war might be an even bigger security threat, if what to do with the insurgents trained in Syria could not be decided. Indeed, how is Turkey going to cope with the threat of thousands of ex-fighters who would return from the Syria battle ground? Supporting a war might be very costly and I am afraid we are still far away of forgetting living, even estimating the probable cost…

Turkey as a big regional power willing to play the role of “regional elder brother” must have maintained its capability to engage with all parties to the conflict as a trustworthy broker, peacemaker rather than aligning with a Selafist and blood-thirsty group of zealots so wild to eat the hearts of their adversaries in front of cameras. The “Sunni solidarity” obsession of the Turkish government has killed the reputation of Turkey as an honest peace broker in the territories which used to be the former territory of the last Turkish Empire, the Ottomans. Kuwait was just a tiny hamlet in the Basra province of the Ottomans. With a humanitarian perspective, with a hand extended to help the needy, this small state grew in the hearts into a big and capable country, carved itself such an image which could not be bought with billions of dollars. As the U.N. secretary-general has said, Kuwaitis deserved gratitude for their “very generous support” which indeed was a product of “vision” of the leadership.

The second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria will of course help raise precious donations that might ease the dimension of human tragedy in Syria a bit, but as long as the war continues, the problem will continue to exacerbate. Worse, if the day after continued to be ignored, the aftermath of the civil war might pose even a greater regional security risk… It is high time for Turkey to wake up, stop war mongering, carrying weapons to one of the fighting groups and embrace the reality of the need to realign itself as a regional peace broker.