Hosting 2.2 million refugees, providing essential food and education needs for them and spending $7.6 billion in total for its refugee camps is the proof of that Turkey does its share in the Syrian refugee crisis
The Syrian civil war has resulted in terribly heavy losses, with a death toll climbing to 300,000 and nearly 10 million refugees constituting the numerable aspects of this tragedy alone, not to mention the status of millions of Syrians whose lives are under imminent danger and the damage that the war inflicts on other countries in the region.
However, debates on the Syrian civil war during the 70th U.N. General Assembly in New York suggest there is not a chronic problem. The countries that steer the world and region's politics, with the U.S. and Russia taking the lead, are still engrossed in defining the problem. On the other hand, Syrian dictator, President Bashar Assad, continues massacres even as the meetings continued and thousands of displaced Syrians died on the roads while fleeing their country for survival.
As a journalist serving in Turkey, a neighbor of Syria that is home to 2 million refugees, I watched the speeches of the leaders at the U.N. summit with a bitter smile on my face. My sarcastic tone is not because I was surprised after witnessing the U.S., the West and Russia's insensitivity to a humanitarian problem. I already did not expect an opposite stance for quite some time. What I found strange is that the U.S. and Russia have lost themselves in their roles, thinking that the idealistic chevalier masks on their faces are not noticed by anyone in the cold war game that they masterfully play.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who attributes Syria's humanitarian tragedy to cold war balances, is an antidote to terror in the region, so to speak. He addressed the ambiguous structure dubbed the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) as if it were a cause rather than an effect and reduced the country and region's future to the elimination of this structure. One would think that the removal of ISIS would immediately end the chaos, which is the consequence of Russia and the international community's years-long silence in the face of Assad's massacres and despotic regime. Putin's statement that no one but the Assad government and Kurdish militia are truly fighting ISIS is the most concrete expression of his reductive attitude.
Certainly, Putin's exaggerative statements about the true power of ISIS and the danger it poses are not the products of a mistake or obsession. He uses emphasis on ISIS as a cover for its struggle for influence in Syria in the presence of the international community. This, at the same time, is a showdown against the diplomacy that has recently intensified between the U.S. and Iran.
A reminder to Mr. ObamaIt is Russia's attitude that has managed to bring together its own objectives with Iran's sectarian policies on Syria on the same ground. On the other hand, U.S. President Barack Obama's remarks at the U.N. summit have given high hopes to some, but they are very far from bringing about a solution. Obama's statement that a transition government without Assad is unacceptable is not very different from those he made during the first year of the Syrian civil war. Strangely, Obama refrained from taking a certain position when opposition groups marched in Damascus and Assad's ouster hinged on a decisive statement from him. At the time, a considerable number of people even evaluated Obama's incomprehensible attitude as an implication of a black leader's efforts to make himself accepted in the U.S. As such, it would be naive to assess Obama's current remarks, which could have been meaningful only during the first year of the war, as him understanding and acknowledging the truth. What difference has Obama seen since then apart from the death of more civilians? Obama just makes strategic moves, as does Putin, who maintains a struggle for influence in the region hiding behind the pretext of ISIS.
Syria is the new CubaFor the U.S. and Iran, Russia's influence is not an ignorable danger as it strives to achieve dominance over Syrian cities that open to the Mediterranean. Obama is worried about Russian influence that dispatches war ships to Syria through the Bosporus every other day and accelerates the delivery of tanks to the country in efforts to establish logistic infrastructure in and around Damascus. Furthermore, Russia's air defense system deployed in Syria, which might affect Turkey and Israel, is a problem in and of itself. In the new millennium, Syria is almost the equivalent of a 1962 Cuba with the great missile crisis between the U.S. and Russia.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's statement that Russia's presence in Syria aims to protect its own military presence in the country, does not go beyond the objective of justifying the potential steps that the U.S. will take in the region. With this "considerate" attitude of the U.S., which reveals how much it is aware of what is going on in the region, Kerry implied that the U.S. is powerful enough to leave no room for worry.
Poor humanity. Apart from Turkey, which readily undertakes the social and economic burden of the war such as the refugee issue, there is no one that takes the greatest humanitarian test of the 21st century seriously. Meanwhile, let us pretend as if we did not hear of the U.S. and Russia's mutual references to NATO and the Warsaw Pact, as the game on Syria continues. Otherwise, the spell will be broken over the blockbuster drama, which features the whole world's melancholy over the Syrian refugee child Aylan Kurdi's washed up body on a Turkish beach. And none of us want that, right?