Turkey, Syria and the ‘terrorist state’

Turkey, Syria and the ‘terrorist state’

It is out of the question for any Turkish government, or even opposition leaders, to ignore the massive humanitarian tragedy continuing on the other side of the Turkish-Syrian border. While a more than 900-kilometer-long border divides the land into Turkish and Syrian territories, Turks and Syrians are very much united by ethnic, religious and cultural bonds, as well as a common history.

Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Assyrians, Muslims, Christians, Jews – you name it; Turkey is Syria, Syria is Turkey in a way; we have such strong bonds… Is there anyone who is not shedding tears in Turkey for the suffering in Aleppo or elsewhere in Syria?

Because of such strong bonds between the peoples of the two countries, there has not been one single article in the Turkish media for example complaining about the presence of well over 800,000 Syrian refugees – sorry “guests” – on Turkish soil. How much has Turkey spent for the refugees over the past three years? We lost count, but were not bothered by it much either. Embracing brothers and sisters in need is a duty that no Turkish national can complain about.

However, is Turkey only embracing the Syrian people forced out of their homes because of the civil war between their government – that Ankara, Washington and many other capitals believe no longer has legitimacy – and the opposition held hostage by some Islamist zealot groups? Turkey, unfortunately, has become part of the Syrian civil war by supporting certain Islamist groups believed by many countries to have links with the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Irrespective of how loud and persistently Turkey might decry such claims, international public opinion has unfortunately started developing a perception detrimental to Turkey’s republican image of being a country committed to “peace at home, peace abroad.” Well, for some people that slogan, a quote from Atatürk, the founding father of the republic, is an empty, pacifist sentence that did not mean much. In reality, however, “peace at home, peace abroad” is and was and will be far more meaningful than the romantic “zero problems” foreign policy “strategy” that landed Turkey in an awful “no friends anywhere” sham.

If every other day several Syria-bound trucks allegedly loaded with weapons and ammunition and said to have been belonged to Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) are “captured” by “treacherous” police and gendarmerie, is there not a problem? No, no, I am not talking about the “state capturing the state” or the “parallel state” rhetoric of our great, almighty, most merciful, absolute ruler. The problem here is that of a country somehow engaged in premeditated self-character assassination.

Can we assume that the entire problem is just a battle for power between the prime minister and the Fethullah Gülen fraternity? Can it be that simple? Or is the prime minister right that Turkey is facing an international plot, the target of which is the prime minister himself? Many people might be unhappy with the premier because of his arrogant, top-down leadership style and obsessive demand to collect all legislative, executive and judiciary power within himself. But in democracies, change should come through the ballot box, not through domestic or international conspiracies. Using “facing a conspiracy” pretext against all domestic or international woes cannot be a remedy to the failures of the government. In the quest to find ways of ousting Syria’s dictatorship, Turkey should not have opted to go to bed with the jihadists.

What goes around, comes around… There ought to be a price for every action… Or should I use the “man dakka dukka” Arab proverb that the prime minister frequently uses?

Why did Syria’s “illegitimate” foreign minister accuse Turkey of being a “terrorist state?” Is it not sad to hear him accusing Turkey of “supporting and abetting” terrorism?

Is it not time to sit back and reconsider what Turkey’s position regarding opposition groups in Syria, the role of MİT and such issues should be?