There’s revolution in Syria, damn the revolution
ASLI AYDINTAŞBAŞA deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), whose name I keep for myself, visited the “tent city” in the southern province Antakya where Syrians who had fled the Bashar al-Assad regime had taken shelter. He asked them, “Why are you here? There is amnesty granted to you. Go back to your country.”
As if those people who had left their countries in one day, who had taken their children and family to live in a tent in another country in the middle of winter, are doing so just for exercise.
When the Syrians called me and told me what reply they gave to the CHP deputy, I was astonished at what I was hearing. A political party that is defending freedom and resisting the authoritarian trend in this country, when it comes to our neighbors and our relatives, finds dictatorship suitable for these people, again and again.
I have written this before: In the media order where criticizing the government is “high-priced” while criticizing the CHP is “free,” moreover it is rewarded by bonus points, I consider it contemptible even to walk on the same side of the street with those journalists who pick on the CHP almost every day. I think three times before I say anything about the CHP. I don’t find it ethical to take a role in this fake “freedom of expression” play.
However, there are times when I cannot but “cry uncle” to the CHP. Syria is at the top of these matters.
The question is not an issue that only belongs to the CHP; in general, the Turkish public is indifferent to what is going on in Syria. Empathy is about zero. Leftist intellectuals, who are skeptic on the Arab Spring, now view the Syria issue with the mentality, “There must be a catch to it.” They say, “We are not Assad supporters,” but feel free to support Bashar al-Assad who has ruled the country in a “one party regime” and with martial law for 40 years, and who is swimming in blood in recent months. They see imperialism, Israel and America under very stone.
This is, in a nutshell, not being able to read the spirit of the time whereas what is happening in Syria as of today is precisely a revolution: a street revolution. And unfortunately, even though it looks as if there were, actually there are not enough supporters in the international order. Israel does not want the situation where Bashar is gone and an adventure starts in Syria. Europe has its own issues. And Washington, who is exhausted by the Arab Spring, even though it talks a lot, is not eager to take on any risks.
And the poor Syrians every day, without any quail, without taking a step backward, again and again, take to the streets. Now, there is a full-scale struggle against the army at each region. Resistance has started even in some neighborhoods of Damascus. There are, so to say, “liberated areas” in Idlib. The number of those is increasing every day, those who flee the army and refuse to direct their tanks and weapons against their own people. There are officers and privates among them. The resistance in Hama, Hummus and Daraa is growing because of the protection coming from these “AWOLs” who act independently of each other.
I think Ankara has done the right thing by both breaking up with Bashar al-Assad and by allowing the Syrian opponents to get organized here. It is a pride to have taken the correct side in history. It is good. One day, we will all see the gratitude of the Syrian people.
However, the opponents in Turkey are mostly in line with the Muslim Brotherhood whereas the rebellion inside Syria is not related to the Muslim Brotherhood. There is an Islamic character at some places, but there is no organizational connection.
There is also the Arab public opinion dimension of the issue. There is no objection similar to the one during the Iraq War. The Arab street is supporting the resistance in Syria. They know what dictators are better than anybody else. Arab countries and the Arab League are no longer at Assad’s side. They also want him to go away.
Apparently, the CHP, the Felicity Party (SP) and for different reasons the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) are against the revolution. (Whoops, not that I intended to but this looks like the prime minister’s election rally speeches.)
Now, I go back and ask again: How come people who claim, “We are revolutionaries,” can oppose the red-blooded revolution in our neighbor? How come those who say, “We are people’s movement,” stay indifferent to the Syrians’ just struggle?
Aslı Aydıntaşbaş is a columnist for the daily Milliyet in which this piece appeared Feb. 2. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.