So, Who’s the Ultimate Villain: Assad or Erdogan?
by Martin Berger on 23 Apr 2016 1 Comment
The last round of Geneva talks regarding Syria ended in a stalemate due to the immovable position held by the Syrian opposition. The opposition, sponsored and controlled by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States and a number of Western players, is convinced that the elected president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, should go no matter what, while none of his supporters should be allowed to participate in any future transitional government. These demands have been voiced in Geneva by the head of the High Negotiations Council, Assad al Zubi.


However, even the most impartial observer following the conflict in Syria over recent years must be surprised with such an aggressive posture, held by Washington and its collaborators against the government in Damascus, in a bid to reorder the Middle East so that total domination of the region by the US would be ensured.


Indeed, the key issue of the Syrian negotiations is the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with Washington finding it unacceptable that Syria be governed by both a sovereign ruler and one with close ties to Russia and Iran. However, every attempt to remove the Syrian leader from power in direct violation of both the Syrian constitution and the norms of international law have so far failed.


Were one to apply Washington’s logic to the West, the toppling of US President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minsters David Cameron, and a number of other Western leaders would be justified simply because of dissatisfaction expressed by a large number of states across the world toward them respectively. Moreover, since those politicians are guilty of actual atrocities around the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, wouldn’t it be only fair to hold them accountable? If they are not held accountable, who is going to pay for the bitter hunger and poverty inflicted upon the inhabitants of the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of constant conflicts driven by foreign aggression over the last decade, the countless poor souls that have been forced to migrate in order to survive due to the irresponsible actions of the above mentioned Western politicians?


One should answer yet another question: Is Assad the only politician that causes troubles for the region? Hasn’t the Turkish president jailed thousands of members of the media and political opponents under various unjust pretexts? Doesn’t he deserve the same tough stance by the West along with calls for his removal from power?


As it has been noted in a interview with Atlantico by a French lecturer, diplomat, and a member of several cabinet of ministers, Roland Hureaux, Bashar al-Assad creates far less trouble for the West than Erdogan. Even though Roland Hureaux is convinced that the Assad is a dictator, just like Saddam Hussein was in Iraq and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt today, he argues that there’s a lot of other dictatorships in the world and most of them are far worse than the Assad regime in Syria. He underlines that authorities in Damascus have always recognized and respected the rights of religious minorities in Syria. In addition, the French diplomat added, after the withdrawal of Syria’s forces from Lebanon, Assad displayed no intentions of creating an empire, while Erdogan hasn’t made the slightest attempt to try to conceal his imperial aspirations. Assad has never been a troublemaker from the point of view of the West, yet the West created a lot of trouble for Assad and the Syrian state, stressed Roland Hureaux.


In turn, The Guardian would note that Turkey:

Is waging war on an ethnic minority, its riot police just stormed the offices of a major newspaper, its secret service faces allegations of arming Isis, its military shot down a Russian bomber - And yet Turkey wants to join the European Union. The country’s swift descent into despotism poses yet another existential problem for the west. The sight of Europe’s leaders kowtowing to Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the hope he would switch off the flood of refugees to Greece, was sickening. After the Turkish courts authorised police to seize the Zaman newspaper, tear-gassing its employees and sacking the editors, the new bosses immediately placed Erdogan’s smiling picture on the front page. He has a lot to smile about.


Turkey is rapidly descending into despotism, which presents a serious problem for the West and its policies. Transcripts leaked to a Greek website last month clearly show that Erdogan has been overtly threatening Europe with an uncontrolled flood of refugees if he doesn’t receive a staggering amount of funds as a “bailout” along with Ankara’s rapid accession to the EU.


Yet another British newspaper – the Independent would condemn Erdogan’s actions by stating:

Turkey has become a rogue state – and even Erdogan must face up to the fact. The fact that Turkey, together with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has provided logistical and financial support, as well as weapons and other services to ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other insurgents, supports this view. Last Tuesday [19 April-ed], Prime Minister Davutoglu made the remarkable admission that Syrian opposition forces have only been able to hold their ground against Assad’s regime because of support from Turkey and other countries.


All of this effectively led to a situation where none of Turkey’s allies see it as an asset, and instead, as a liability. Ankara’s actions towards its people are both cruel and irresponsible, with Erdogan unleashing true genocide against Turkey’s Kurdish population. Turkey has become a transit point for the flow of militants going in and out of Syria. At the same time, according to some sources, Ankara allowed militants to smuggle chemical weapons, namely mustard gas, across its territory. Human Rights Watch confirmed repeatedly, cases of Turkish army units opening fire at refugees as they tried to cross the Turkish border in hopes of escaping ISIS violence. And the list goes on.


However, it’s not the first time the Western world has backed the wrong side. Recognizing one’s enemy requires some political skills that Western leaders are clearly lacking. Yet, such mistakes are always the most costly ones. This means that Europeans need to have the courage to oppose the actions of Tayyip Erdogan, instead of blindly going after Assad. Of course, this would require Europe to display some real independence from the will of Washington, but not without preparing to face serious consequences. It seems that the Turkish president has become the true test of the willingness of certain European politicians to put forward the interests of their people, instead of sacrificing them in favor of Washington’s orders.


Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. Courtesy

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