Turkey, Syria, Egypt…
Accepting the current Syria or Egypt policies of Turkey as products of a foreign policy based on an “excessively liberal” mindset must be an excessively liberal undertaking. The current foreign policymakers in Ankara have, unfortunately, been suffering from presbyopia. Forget long-term planning that requires the capability to accurately analyze existing data and forecast what might probably happen tomorrow, Turkey’s present political team has been so obsessed with ideology that they cannot even see the day they are living in.
In Syria, Turkey has lost its precious status of trusted mediator by shutting the door on Basher al-Assad’s face and aligning with al-Nusra and other zealots on the pretext of supporting a civilian resistance against a brutal regime. Over the past years, everyone who has eyes must have seen who was more brutal, barbaric or savage in Syria. Neither the mass killings undertaken by the al-Assad regime nor the scenes of “Islamist militants” eating the organs of their (it would not be less cannibalistic if the victims were dead anyhow) still-alive hostages.
Turkey’s foreign policy and humanitarian interests, of course, require peace, order and tranquility in Syria. In a prosperous Syria in good relations with Turkey, there can neither be a problem of the Syrian wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) separatist gang, nor can there be a serious security threat to Turkey. Now, at a time when Turkey is sentencing its commanders on the grounds that they were involved in gang activity, Turkey’s spy agency is publicly meeting with Syrian Kurdish leaders in Istanbul. Who are these Kurdish leaders? They are heading the Syrian wing of the PKK and Ankara is in efforts to convince them not to declare autonomy for now.
This development alone underlines how successful Turkey’s Syria policy has been. Arming to teeth some Islamist militants – who indeed are mostly on the American and European terror lists – cannot earn Turkey much, but the price the country has already been paying will be a rather tall one.
Could Turkey turn a blind eye to atrocities committed by the Syrian regime? Of course not. Turkey ought to extend every possible humanitarian assistance. But how sound it is to build permanent home-like refugee camps, which indeed look like new towns, right in areas on the Turkish-Syrian border? Lax security at those camps and the Turkish-Syrian border (so that militants can freely use the camps for logistical purposes) has become a serious security menace for Turkey.
No one should forget the Reyhanli blasts in May, which killed 51 and wounded 140. Putting the blame on a long-defunct urban terrorist group might be of help to calm the panicked public, but how will those responsible satisfy their own conscience, if they have any?
In Egypt, everyone apparently forgot that the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi came to power in the aftermath of a military-supported coup against the Hosni Mubarak administration. Yes, it is good to be against coups but let’s not been selective. Was Turkey not saluting and applauding the first coup in Egypt? Without any discrimination, Turkey must be able to condemn all coups. Why was Turkey the first country to rush to congratulate the first “Egyptian revolution” while bearing a grudge against the world for not condemning the “continuation of the Egyptian revolution” as a coup? Is it so difficult for the political team in Ankara to read why most of the world shares the belief that the second coup in Cairo was aimed at salvaging the “Egyptian revolution” held hostage by the Salafis?
The Syria developments and the Muslim Brotherhood “victory” in Egypt were believed to herald the advance of political Islam. But in Syria, and even more so in Egypt, political Islam proved not to be a valid currency. Only Ankara has been unable to read it so far.
At the end of the day, Turkey must remain respectful of the internal affairs of other countries while correspondingly not deviating from the principle of the universality of human rights. Well, on that issue there is a problem. How can you talk about the universality of human rights when your prisons are filled to the brim with journalists, academics and intellectuals?