By: Yasin Aktay*
This image alone is enough to put Turkey in a different spot in the Syria equation from the other countries involved. All the other countries have only left disruption, death and migration behind them. Iran, Russia, the Syrian Government and the U.S. have only paved wave for death, destruction, asylum and ethnic cleansing. Turkey is the only country that has saved lives, carried out construction instead of destruction and enabled people to return to their homes.Returning home or the people already living there, are the most important measures in terms of measuring the legitimacy of an operation. What a country is seeking or doing in a region can be best understood by those living there. Why do the people of a region have to leave their homes when the so-called helping countries have stepped in to combat Daesh? If the only reason is to combat Daesh, then why is it that the people of that region are the only ones paying the price?
After all the operations conducted on Daesh in Syria, the people of the region had to leave their homes behind and take refuge in Turkey. There surely is something wrong with this, as the U.S. was protested by the locals in Çobanbey during a mutual operation conducted, in which Turkey had participated in too. The people had the opportunity to do this protest because it was a ground offensive. Regrettably, the people don’t have the chance to protest in many other places because they are bombed from above.
Neither the U.S. nor any other foreign actor have a justifiable reason for being in Syria. Which violence are they trying to save the Syrian people from? Although the priority is to save the Syrians from Assad’s tyranny, the U.S. is busy trying to save them from Daesh. Yet this salvation has only caused more deaths, destruction and ethnic cleansing.
In this case, America’s friendship is more dangerous than its hostility. Instead of solving a problem it detects, the U.S. actually turns the problem into a deeper issue. Turkey, Syria and Iraq too (in the past) are suffering from this principle. Everyone has to be extra careful when the U.S. points out a problem. As it is for sure that, a problem is created out of nowhere, and then it is turned into something even bigger after U.S. interference.
After making a mess of Iraq, the U.S. should have been much more meticulous when approaching the Syrian issue. It would have been more beneficial if the U.S. had been in dialogue with Turkey and given an ear to Turkey’s warnings.
After turning Iraq into an unlivable place, the U.S. has turned the Syrian issue in to a crisis too. At the end of the day, if the U.S. had stayed away from the Syrian issue, the issue would have probably been in a better condition and easier to solve.
The U.S. prioritizing Daesh as its enemy, directly put them in a place in which they supported the Assad regime. Moreover, the U.S. supporting PYD, an extension of the PKK, against Daesh showed that the U.S. does not have any ethical or legal principles.
The same U.S. might decide to side with Daesh tomorrow and turn its back on its allies. We can expect this to happen any moment. At this point, the U.S.’ anti-terror discourse has no plausibility left. The U.S. isn’t principle against terrorism, instead it perceived the issue from a cyclical viewpoint, and is only against certain kinds of terrorism.
The sensitivity U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass was quick to display, due to the Peoples’ Democratic Union (HDP) municipalities being transferred to government-appointed trustees “over supporting terrorism”, shows that the PKK is also an indirect ally in this conjuncture.
The contradiction the U.S. shows in terms of terrorism is actually harming itself. The U.S. is turning into an ally, which cannot be trusted, and an ally whose friendship is worse than its hostility. This perception is not only valid in Turkey, but all the other countries in the region too. What kind of effectiveness does it hope to achieve in the region’s peace and stability and especially in the war of power? Who is advising the U.S. authorities? Frankly, the U.S. authorities have to confront this issue as soon as possible.
*Yasin Aktay is the vice chair of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) in Turkey.
(Published in Yeni Şafak Turkısh newspaper on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2016)