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February 11, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8550

Turkey 'Will Struggle For Years With The Reality That [The AKP] Leaves As A Legacy: Radical Islamism' – Turkish Opposition Writer Criticizes AKP's Syria Policy

February 11, 2020
Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 8550

In column titled "Losing [Turkey's] Hatay On The Way To Damascus" in the Turkish daily BirGün, opposition writer Erk Acarer criticized the Syria policy of Turkey's AKP government. [1] Acarer cited a United Nations Security council report and wrote: "Idlib surpasses even Afghanistan as the world's biggest radical Islamist cesspool. Now the whole world is talking about how the Erdoğan government is the biggest ingredient in this cesspool... Neo-Ottomanism, caliphate aspirations, the love of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the obsession with overthrowing Assad are the biggest causes of the creation of this cesspool. Turkey's gamble started to lose even as the civil war in Syria was still picking up speed... Without doubt, there will be a price to pay for this gamble. But the people of Turkey will pay it."


Turkish writer Erk Acarer.

Following is a translation of excerpts from Acarer's article:

"Now The Whole World Is Talking About How The Erdoğan Government Is The Biggest Ingredient In This Cesspool"

"While eight bases belonging to the Turkish armed forces are under siege, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) announced: 'Turkey has put 1,250 military vehicles and 5,000 soldiers in Idlib.' While only four of Turkey's 12 observation points remain, a week ago seven [Turkish] soldiers and one civilian were killed as a result of Syrian artillery fire...

"The question of 'What business does Turkey have in Syria?' comes from 2011. According to a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) report, Idlib surpasses even Afghanistan as the world's biggest radical Islamist cesspool. Now the whole world is talking about how the Erdoğan government is the biggest factor in this cesspool.

"It has been written dozens of times and has become a cliché: neo-Ottomanism, caliphate aspirations, the love of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the obsession with overthrowing Assad are the biggest causes of the creation of this cesspool. Turkey's gamble started to lose even as the civil war in Syria was still picking up speed... "

"This State, Or Jihadi Cesspool, Is About To Move Into Turkey"

"Without doubt, there will be a price to pay for this gamble. But the people of Turkey will pay it. This is losing the wheat in your hand while going for the rice in Damietta.[2] The question of 'What is Turkey doing there?' no longer has any relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the caliphate, or with neo-Ottomanism. The AKP government is also aware of the great danger that is approaching.

"The population of Idlib, which before the war was about 1.5 million, passed three million with the radicals and their families who were pushed from other regions as the regime began to purge the country of jihadis. This meant a small unofficial Al-Qaeda state parallel to Hatay [province in Turkey].

"Now this state, or jihadi cesspool, is about to move into Turkey. [Opposition party] CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in a speech at the January 18 Party Assembly: 'Those from before were innocent Syrians. Those who will come from Idlib are members of terrorist organizations with blood on their hands. If these million people come, the true disaster will happen.'

"This speech, which drew reactions from the government and its media, contradicts neither the reality in the area nor the UN report. In August, tens of thousands of people were pushed to the Turkish border from Idlib. The number reached 312,000 in December and 480,000 in the first month of 2020. Last week Erdoğan spit it out: 'A million are walking toward our border.'..."

"It Is Unknown To Whom The [Turkish] Intelligence And Security Organizations Have Given Passage And For What Purpose"

"Those coming over the border in Altınözü, Hatay using ladders are crossing into Turkey. It is unclear who is crossing into and out of Turkey from the Atme Camp, which is adjascent to Reyhanlı. It is unknown to whom the [Turkish] intelligence and security organizations have given passage and for what purpose.

"The current immigration data shows the changing demographics in the cities neighboring Syria. The report of the Refugees Association from early Februrary is striking: 27 percent of Hatay is Syrian... Twenty-two percent of the people in Antep and 81 percent of those in Kilis are refugees.[3]

"There has been no initiative put forward concerning the integration of the education, culture, or the people themselves. The government sees the Syrians as a blessing in public opinion, a monetary element in European relations, and a possible military material against Assad. Let's clear something up with jihadism and the subject of immigration."

"The Country Will Struggle For Years With The Reality That [The AKP] Leaves As A Legacy: Radical Islamism"

"The border settlements inside Idlib are not going to be permanent. The regime, supported by Russia, is determined to push every handswidth of Idlib toward Turkey. The jihadi transfer to Libya and the population moved to Afrin are limited. Erdoğan is warming up 'Plan B' on the matter of Idlib with the expression of 'one million.'...

"Beyond Damietta, this is losing Hatay on the way to Damascus! The economic price will be heavy. Along with this, even if the AKP is no longer in power, the country will struggle for years with the reality that it leaves as a legacy: Radical Islamism. On top of that it is possible to return these radicals to Turkey with their weapons and their feeling that they have been sold out. As they are defeated, they produce hate. In a visual that they published they are seen stepping on not only the Syrian but the Turkish flag."

 

[1] Birgun.net/haber/sam-a-giderken-hatay-i-kaybetmek-287313, February 10, 2020.

[2] "Do not lose the wheat in your house while going for the rice in Damietta" is a Turkish expression meaning "do not lose what you already have in pursuit of something better." Damietta is a port city in Egypt.

[3] Multeciler.org.tr/turkiyedeki-suriyeli-sayisi, accessed February 10, 2020.

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