Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu asked journalists some critical questions about Syria and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) on the airplane while returning from the G20 Summit. Those questions were addressed to our Western fellows by a person who had information, intelligence and experience at the prime ministerial level. In Davutoğlu's words:
"Turkey repeatedly said that it did not have any links to ISIS, despite that, international media accused it of such links. No ISIS leaders came from or passed through Turkey. Propaganda was made to undermine the government. The international public made live broadcasts from Kobani every day. They said things in the news such as 'Turkish tanks are stopping, Kobani is being shot.'
"I'm asking you, where did [ISIS leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi come from? He came from Abu Ghraib. He came from Iraq. Has Iraq or Abu Ghraib ever been under Turkey's control? Just give me a specific name; which ISIS leader departed from Turkey or crossed Turkey's borders? A considerable portion of the militants were released from Syrian prisons. They were positioned in Syria and under the protection of [Bashar] Assad. Also, Maliki previously informed us about it and asked Turkey for help when we had ties with Assad.
"A foreign minister of an important EU country told me to take precautions two years ago. I asked him, 'If you know about them, why don't you prevent them from leaving your country?' He told me that as a democratic country they could not prevent people not involved in any crime from leaving. My response was, 'Aren't we also a democratic country? How can we prevent people who haven't committed any crime having access into our country?' After that talk, we started to receive some lists from other countries. We prevented the entrance of 7,000 people to Turkey." The questions and information stated above are very explicit.
For two years, Turkey has been the target of a major battle. Of course Turkey's foreign policy is not void of mistakes; however, the strong winds blowing from the West to Turkey do not constitute criticism, but have reached the level of deliberate labeling. Also, Turkey's inability to establish mechanisms, including diversity, to express itself to the world has also played a part in that. And the worldwide Gülen Movement network which originally supported the government regarding these matters up until last year is now at loggerheads with the government after a domestic crisis.
However, shouldn't this campaign, which even issued a nonsensical report saying "Everyday [Turkey sends] four or five trucks carrying Red Bulls to Syria," as reported by Bloomberg news agency, at least draw the attention of honest Western people and journalists? Shouldn't a strategist or a journalist who writes news on Turkey attach importance to the questions asked by Davutoğlu and the data rendered by him as an authority?
If the real purpose is to build collaboration with Turkey rather than disciplining the country, then wouldn't be it more appropriate for the U.S. and the EU to be more principled? Instead of saying "we give you a certain role on the Syrian matter" and attempting a media operation when we did not accept it, what is required is acknowledgment of the fact that Turkey is not a country where military and bureaucratic domination is as prevalent as in the Cold War period. That will save time for everyone. I think it is urgent to make a leap to a realpolitik mindset which would comply with the 21st century.