Turkey’s ultimate hypocrisy
The Syrian province of Idlib, which is being subjected to massacres and destruction, is only 29 km from the Turkish border, which is closed to women and children trying to flee. On the other hand, the Libyan capital Tripoli, which Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has pledged to defend, is 1,920 km away from Ankara.
In an unprecedented example of hypocrisy, Cavusoglu recently claimed that Turkey will intervene militarily in order to prevent Libya from becoming another Syria, just when 250,000 Syrians — mostly children and women — wait at his country’s border crossings for permission to enter as they run away from devastating Russian and Iranian attacks.
Throughout the years of Syria’s war, Turkey refused to protect its neighbors in Idlib, Aleppo and other Syrian provinces, even when the town of Khan Sheikhoun was hit with chemical weapons. Now, however, Turkey has declared its willingness to intervene in Libya, and before that it sent its troops to fight Kurds in eastern Syria.
It is the ultimate hypocrisy that Ankara warns against Libya becoming another Syria while it sends arms and fighters from Syria to Tripoli, leaving its Syrian neighbors at the mercy of the Iranians, Russians, Hezbollah and others.
Over the past eight years, Turkey has not fought a single battle against the Syrian regime, nor has it defended by force any Syrian city or village
The other part of this hypocrisy is that Cavusoglu criticized the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, saying it does not have enough power to solve ongoing conflicts in the Muslim world. But will this new bloc that he wants to found in Malaysia with the Iranians intervene to stop crimes in Syria and Iraq?
Was it not Turkey that contributed to turning Libya into another Syria, when it was one of the first suppliers of weapons and training, and now of mercenaries? Was Turkey not one of the first states to intervene in the war in Syria?
One major difference with Iran is that the latter was at least true to its pledges to its ally, the Syrian regime. Indeed, the Turkish authorities have become known for being merely vocal regarding Palestine, Syria, Myanmar and other countries.
Over the past eight years, Turkey has not fought a single battle against the Syrian regime, nor has it defended by force any Syrian city or village. What Ankara has done is exploit Syrian refugees and turn them into a blackmailing weapon against Europe by threatening to send more than 1 million of them to Greece, Germany and other EU countries.
Ankara is now threatening to send more refugees if the Europeans do not pay up in return for not opening the Turkish borders again. Ankara is using refugees as a bargaining chip, and is angry with the Gulf countries and the US for refusing to finance its project to settle 1 million refugees against their will in insecure Kurdish regions of Syria.
Turkey’s crime is that it has been a cause of the tragedy in Syria since the beginning, for it had promised support to the protesters, yet it is sitting down with the Iranians and Russians to strike commercial and military deals. Even the latest assault on Idlib has been part of the deal, as Ankara consented to remain silent in return for being allowed to fight the Kurds in northeast Syria.
- Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Twitter: @aalrashed