Voices from the Arab Press: Erdogan’s manipulation of the Syrian people

Lebanon should take the initiative and cease to provide free services to the Iranian axis.

LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER SAAD HARIRI takes a selfie with a participant at the UAE-Lebanon Investment Forum in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on October 7.  (photo credit: SATISH KUMAR/REUTERS)
LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER SAAD HARIRI takes a selfie with a participant at the UAE-Lebanon Investment Forum in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on October 7.
(photo credit: SATISH KUMAR/REUTERS)
Erdogan’s manipulation of the Syrian people
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, October 11
The Turkish invasion of Syria has been condemned by almost all countries in the world, as well as most countries in the Middle East, regardless of these nations’ different political orientations. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not have to make this clumsy move. Even his desire to uproot the Syrian Kurdish organization is unjustified. SDF is one of dozens of organizations in the Syrian civil war, and there are more dangerous ones, such as Iran’s militias, which reside in areas close to Turkey’s borders.
When Erdogan invades Syria and declares that he wants to liquidate the Kurds and get rid of the two million Syrian refugees, what we are facing is an issue of humanitarian, legal, and, of course, political, danger to our region. Erdogan had hoped that he could justify his action using the Turkish media. But his justifications failed.
Meanwhile, the Qatari media is the only one to support the Turkish actions, by comparing Turkey’s campaign to that of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. In doing so, it is ignoring the legitimacy granted to the coalition from two legitimate sources, each of which would have individually sufficed to approve the operation: the Yemeni government and the UN Security Council.
Turkey, in contrast, received no authorization from the UN for its actions, nor is it protecting its sovereign borders from the aggressions of an external actor. What Erdogan is doing is nothing more than an invasion. Erdogan sent his troops to occupy a vast territory that is about 500 kilometers wide and 30 kilometers deep, and to displace two million Syrian refugees, which will increase the suffering of the Syrian people, make the refugees a target of the Syrian regime and their Iranian cronies, and exacerbate ethnic conflict in the region. Erdogan admits that he intends to use the Syrians as a human shield against Kurdish militants.
When the world urged Turkey to intervene in Syria seven years ago – that is, to help stop the slaughter and destruction carried out by the Syrian regime in areas adjacent to the Turkish border – Erdogan refused to lend a hand. The Iranians and Russians traveled long distances to intervene, and Erdogan refrained from any action, even though Europe and most of the world at the time was ready to give him legal cover and logistical support. The horrific massacres took place just a stone’s throw away from Turkish military bases.
Now, suddenly, Erdogan is keen to intervene. If he does not back down, Erdogan might find himself out of office. The situation in Syria could eradicate Erdogan at home, where the Turkish premier lost most of his supporters. Now, some voices in Turkey are accusing Erdogan of invading Syria only to escape his internal crises. Others are closing ranks behind him, promising Turkish extremists to get rid of Syrian refugees and to confront separatist Kurds. All of this creates a more volatile and chaotic reality on Turkey’s borders, which might come back to haunt Erdogan by threatening his country’s internal security.–Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed
UAE’s message to Lebanon
Nida Al-Watan, Lebanon, October 11
The United Arab Emirates, and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi specifically, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, sought to send a message of hope to Lebanon by hosting the UAE-Lebanon investment conference, which brought an end to the Emirati ban on travel to Lebanon, in addition to serious discussions around the possibility of providing aid to Beirut. On more than one level, this confirms the continued support of the UAE for Lebanon’s state and economy.
Those who know the subtleties of regional and international politics are well aware that the UAE’s message is not isolated in time and space. It comes at a time when the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the United States are enjoying close coordination at unprecedented levels. Therefore, the Lebanese government would be foolish to give up this opportunity for closer ties with Dubai. Lebanon must undergo change at several levels in order to relaunch its ties with Gulf states. The first level is an economic-financial one, which requires a series of in-depth reform measures that would make the Lebanese economy ready to stimulate Arab and international investments. The rampant corruption that has plagued Lebanon under the pretext of “political disorder” must come to an end, because it is a significant barrier to attracting investment.
The second level relates to the sovereignty of the Lebanese state, which can no longer ask for aid and investments from countries, especially the Gulf states, when the UAE and Saudi Arabia are subjected to the most heinous political and media attacks from Hezbollah, operating from within Lebanon. It is in the best interest of the Lebanese state to curb any encroachment against Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, whatever its source may be. The Lebanese government, led by its Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun, must prove that they are already governing, not by name, by providing evidence of goodwill toward the Gulf states.
The third level pertains to the need of the Lebanese government to distance itself from all intervention in the domestic and external affairs of Gulf states, regardless of the pretext. Lebanon has a limited opportunity at hand, and the Lebanese government must undeniably confirm its seriousness in maintaining political, financial and economic stability. Lebanon should take the initiative and cease to provide free services to the Iranian axis at the expense of its own people, economy and political stability.
Tony Abi Najem
Erdogan’s bullying must come to an end!
Akhbar Al-Youm, Egypt, October 1
Perhaps with the exception of Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, the whole world stands against Erdogan’s bullish foreign policy. Yet the Ottoman Aga is still pursuing his miserable adventures, escaping the defeats of his country and imagining he can achieve greatness by abusing other nations. The whole world stands against Erdogan’s bullying in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkish troops are violating international law, sending ships to deliberately provoke Cyprus by searching for gas in its territorial waters. The world realizes that what Erdogan is doing threatens security and stability in this region whose countries seek peace and development.
The whole world is aware of Erdogan’s bullying in Syria, where, in addition to slaughtering Kurds, Turkey is committing heinous crimes against the Syrian people. Erdogan did not invade Syria to fight terrorism as he claims; he is there to defeat his political opponents and increase his control over land. The tragedy is that Erdogan is going to occupy part of Syrian territory with US permission. The tragedy is that Erdogan’s bullying will continue in the eastern Mediterranean while Europe turns a blind eye. Erdogan’s bullying will eventually end with his inevitable fall, but will the world move to spare the region from further complications brought about by this fanatical dictator? Do the world’s powers not bear any responsibility for their silence in the wake of this Turkish aggression?!
–Jalal Aref
Khashoggi’s case failed to be politicized
Al Jazeera, Saudi Arabia, October 9
In 2004, I left my previous political role in Iraq as Minister of the Interior and took on a diplomatic position as Iraq’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and, later, as its ambassador to Washington. I did so not because I wanted a change, but because I realized that our political system had derailed and began to sink into the marshes of sectarianism and corruption.
Instead of being a part of a system that is exhausted by dictatorship and wars, I had a deep desire to help our nation recover by advocating for greater political, diplomatic, technical and financial support for our government. I realized that the opportunity is fading away, and that I have to take a new position outside the political system through which I can devote all of my energy to preserve and defend Iraq’s interests at two of the most important global arenas: the international system (that is, at the United Nations) and the United States.
For almost eight years, between 2004 and 2012, I have been following with great concern the deterioration that has taken place at home. I clung to the hope – which began to weaken with time – that reform was coming sooner or later. I felt compelled to perform my duty perfectly, with the hope that we could build a new culture that reflects our aspirations for freedom, democracy, and good governance.
When I was in the Iraqi Governing Council, a senior American official described me as optimistic. When he met me again in Washington a few years later, he asked me if I still had a positive outlook about my country. “Yes,” I answered, “but I know that the time horizon I’m looking at grew from five years to, perhaps, 20,” I added. Getting to where we wanted to get would be a much harder process than I had expected.
With the passage of time, my ultimate objective seemed farther and farther in the horizon. When I left my diplomatic post in the beginning of 2012, I tried to stay off the record. In most of my public appearances, I tried to maintain a cautious optimism. But deep inside, my convictions were becoming increasingly pessimistic: terrorism plagued our nation, the government implemented sectarian quotas, corruption has become widespread. All of this exacerbated poverty and ignorance, alongside the deterioration of Iraq’s stance in almost every international metric – ranging from education through health to security.
Recently, however, there is renewed sign of hope. We are now witnessing growing public discontent over this worsening situation in our country, through things like the widespread boycott of the recent elections, and the outbreak of mass demonstrations in Basra, and the calls to end corruption. Meanwhile, a number of national intellectuals and writers have decided to bravely call out our society’s ailments.
Iraq is now ready for change. This requires a new and invigorated leadership that would avoid the serious bumps that will undoubtedly be put in its way, including the potential of being drawn into violence and possibly civil war. We need a wise national leadership that will support the popular movement and direct it in the right direction.
At this time, there is reason to be optimistic and look to the future with a new outlook; the outlook of young people who yearn for a life worthy of living, who are taking agency over their own lives, who want to reclaim their nation. We should look to the future not with naïveté or innocence, nor with unrealistic dreams, but with a serious attempt to develop a convincing road map for the long-awaited transformation that our country needs. I have no illusion that this road is easy or that the desired result is within reach anytime soon. The obstacles are many and well-known. But Iraq faces no better chance for change than it does at the present moment. Now is the time.
–Samir Sumaidaie, former Iraqi interior minister, ambassador to the UN, and ambassador to the US
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