Turkey’s Intervention in Syria Reveals "Double Standard"

Article Summary
According to Abdallah Balkis, Turkey’s intervention against the Syrian regime and its support of the armed opposition points to the hypocrisy of Turkish commitment to human rights. If roles were reversed, Ankara would be furious over any Syrian attempts to meddle in Turkey’s ongoing struggles with its Kurdish population, Balkis argues.

To hear Turkey admonishing Syria for violating human rights comes as a surprise to the world. Those who have an interest in serving Ankara may believe its pretentious statements. However most of the people - including the Turks - are well aware that preserving human rights is of little concern to Ankara's ruling elite.

How could Turkey present itself as an example of human rights for Syria when the Kurdish problem is deeply rooted in its society? Kurds suffer greatly in Turkey, with restrictions on their-long banned mother tongue and cultural existence. Their peaceful movements are faced with armed repression and violence, while Turkey claims that it is facing "terrorism."

It is true that the Syrian regime's crackdown on unarmed civilians is without hesitation unacceptable and deplorable; but no one can deny the atrocities committed by the Turkish regime against large numbers of Kurds or [fail to] denounce them as a heinous crime. These acts of violence and repression are one of the main reasons which has prevented Turkey from joining the European Union, despite polishing up  its image with the help of its American friends over the last ten years.

Why didn't Turkey take into consideration all of the tragedies and human rights violations in Libya, when Qaddafi's aircrafts killed thousands of Libyans in Benghazi, Derna, al-Bayda, Brega, al-Zawiya and Misurata? Ankara continued to support the Colonel's regime until its policy reached a deadlock. Turkey was forced to catch up to the Europeans.

Ankara turned a blind eye to the bloodshed in Libya. As long as interests were served, Turkey’s morals did not prevent it from covering up the crimes of Tripoli. To hell with human rights if they stand in the way of Turkeys' national interests!

Erdogan's administration adopts a purely American style in its talk about human rights. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is loyal to America with a clear Muslim conscience, as described by late Muslim Turkish leader, Najem al-Dind Arbakan. The Turkish ruling elite is playing its cards right, sacrificing human rights to settle accounts with regional opponents and support the coming to power of ideologically similar movements - whatever the cost.

Just like Israel and America, Turkey does not include human rights in its governing principles. Turkey skillfully plays the human rights card in its policies, according to a blatant double standard.

What is even more surprising is Turkey’s declared intervention in Syria's internal affairs. The Turkish Prime Minister did not even shy away from stating that the situation in Syrian is part of Turkish national security! One cannot overlook the obvious Ottoman allusion in his statement, as if Syria was a province of the Great Empire! The position of the AKP leaders stands in contrast to Turkey's traditional policy of consistent rejection of international intervention in its internal affairs.

Turkey's image remains stained in the eyes of the world for its violation of Kurdish rights. When demonstrations swept the world's capitals, denouncing the Turkish genocide against Armenians during the First World War, Turkey became furious. It claimed that the human rights organizations' campaigns were an attempt to tarnish its international reputation. Why does Turkey have the right to meddle in its neighbors' affairs, while [its neighbors] are completely forbidden from coming near its own [affairs]?!

Why can’t Turkey put itself in Syria's shoes? Would it have accepted that a neighboring country incites the Kurdish opposition, [whether] civilian or armed? Or that a country call for the imposition of a buffer zone in Eastern Anatolia, securing air cover to shield murders and killings? Would Turkey have accepted that this neighboring country receives the opposition and hosts its conference? I do not believe that Turkey would have remained silent if the shoe was on the other foot, and Syria was supporting the secular opposition and calling upon them to topple the regime. Turkey would have fought back harshly, accusing the armed Kurds of terrorism, threatening the unity and stability of the country.

Although, democratically speaking, one cannot agree with Turkey's policies regarding Kurdish human rights, one cannot argue with it when it comes to preserving its citizens and soldiers from [Kurdish] violence. And yet Turkey seems unable to relate to Syria when it is protecting its people and stability from armed attacks, which Turkey views as legitimate armed rebellion to overthrow the regime!

So far, the actions of the Turkish Prime Minister regarding Damascus remain confusing: Is he acting as a regional leader, or as the head of an ideological political party?

Found in: turkish intervention in syria, turkish foreign policy, turkish-syrian relations, turkish-kurdish relations, regional politics, kurdish rights, human rights in turkey, human rights, erdogan, akp

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