Turkish Opposition Less Enthusiastic About Syrian Revolution

Article Summary
Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, has urged those Syrians seeking asylum in Turkey to return to their country following Bashar al-Assad’s declarations of amnesty. Asli Aytintasbas writes that it is hypocritical for this kind of party to label itself a popular movement while ignoring the human rights abuses taking place in Turkey’s backyard.

Turkey’s main opposition party, the [Republican People’s Party], or CHP, has a miserable record on Syria. One CHP MP asked Syrian refugees in Antakya why they were still staying in Turkey despite the fact that Bashar al-Assad declared a general amnesty for the opposition. “Go back to your country,” he told them. As if those refugees have left their home, their country and their children in the middle of the winter for fun. [The CHP] defends freedom and resists authoritarianism in this country [Turkey], while tolerating dictatorship when it comes to our neighbors and relatives.

I can’t help but oppose the CHP on certain issues, and the Syrian conflict is at the top of the list.

The CHP is not the only group [unsympathetic to the plight of the Syrians]; Turkish public opinion overall is indifferent when it comes to the conflict in Syria. There is zero empathy. Even our leftist intellectuals say, “There is something else behind all of this.” They don’t hold back their support for Assad, a man whose single party regime has ruled the country over 40 years by martial law and with bloody hands. [Even the leftists] see imperialism, Israel and the US as the instigators of almost every conflict.

In Syria what we have is a genuine revolution of the streets, and unfortunately the international community’s lack of support for this revolution is not an illusion. Israel does not want to see Assad leave, as it will have to deal with the consequences of further upheaval in Syria. Europe has its own problems. And although Washington is making its voice heard, it has yet to assume any real responsibility. But the poor Syrians are not giving up, nor are they stepping back; they fill the streets on their own almost every day. There is now a collective struggle against the army and the resistance has even spread to some parts of Damascus. There are “free zones” in Idlib. The number of dissident soldiers that refuse to shoot at their own people is on the rise, and they include several high ranking officials. The resistance movements are growing independently in Hama, Homs and Daraa as those dissident soldiers join their ranks.

In my opinion, Ankara was right to break with Assad and host the opposition in Turkey. At some point in the future, we will feel the appreciation of the Syrian people. The opposition in Turkey has mainly aligned itself with the Muslim Brotherhood. But the opposition in Syria has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood. There might be isolated instances where an Islamist character has emerged, but integral to the resistance movement as a whole.

There is also Arab public opinion: Unlike the Iraq War, there has been no reaction [to Turkey’s support for the opposition]. The Arab street supports the resistance in Syria. [The Arab peoples] know better than anyone else what dictatorship is all about. The Arab countries and Arab League do not back Assad anymore; they too want him to get up and go.

It looks like the CHP, the Felicity Party [a more conservative and hard-line offshoot of the ruling Justice and Development party], and for various other reasons, the BDP (Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party) are all against the revolution.

To those who call themselves “revolutionaries,” I ask again: How can you call yourselves that, and yet oppose the revolution next door? How can those who call themselves a “popular movement” remain indifferent to the just struggle of the Syrians?

Sign up for our Newsletter




Cookies help us deliver our services. By using them you accept our use of cookies. Learn more... X