Syria’s neighbours have not only let her down in the fight against terrorism, they have done worse. They have funded, aided and fought beside various terrorist groups whose goal is to enslave the Syrian people. The neighbouring state which bears the most guilt is Turkey, followed by Jordan. The roles of Lebanon and Israel remain ambiguous at best.
I have little sympathy for a country whose soldiers are sent into a neighbouring state illegally in order to destabilise the state. However, it is impossible not to feel for the men killed by the ISIS savages and in the long term it is crucial that an important country like Turkey uses her power and influence in the name of good rather than evil.
The most hopeful sign are the trilateral talks whose stated aim is the preservation of Syrian territorial integrity and political sovereignty. Russia and Iran have always held these views. By signing up to this agreement, the Turks have had to swallow their pride.
Turkey’s ambitions in Syria are less about self-defence against ISIS or Al-Qaeda style terrorists as they are about long standing vendettas against the Kurds as well as Erdogan’s personal ambition to Ottomanise parts of the Arab world starting with Syria and Iraq.
This ambition will only come back to haunt Erdogan. The ISIS victory over his forces is one of the first clear examples of this.
Turkey can do better, she owes it to her own citizens and to her neighbours. The fact that Erdogan’s foreign policy seems to be shifting (yet again) from a perverse combination of NATOism and Ottomanism to a more sensible moderate Eurasianism, is heartening. Russia and Iran share the Eurasian vision of a peaceful middle east where negative western influences are minimised and radical Salifist terrorist groups are eliminated.
Turkey’s traditionally secular constitution and moderate Sunni population has been thrown into flux by the political Islam of Erdogan. Now because of regional problems and Erdogan’s own ambitions, Turkey is at a dangerous crossroads.
How many wake up calls will it take before Turkey realises that in choosing the side which will ultimately lose and one which is detrimental to Turkey’s own safety, the Turkish leaders have set their country on the road to destruction?
Similar questions could be asked in Jordan, where King Abdulla II will host the forthcoming Arab League summit. How long will Jordan’s historical enmity with many Syrian governments, prevent Amman and Damascus from uniting against a foe which does not discriminate in its killings of Syrian or Jordanian men, women and children?
Once again, Turkish ambitions and historic Arab disunity are allowing terrorists to fill this vacuum in leadership. President Assad is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Russia and Iran are helping, but he certainly does not need more enemies in his fight for civilisation against the forces whose idea of justice is burning two young men alive.