Opposition to Turkey reflects Arab League’s hypocrisy
Founding mission of Arab League is to protect rights of Arab people, now being defended by Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring
The writer is associate professor at Sakarya University and also vice president at Center for Middle Eastern Studies
The Arab League’s condemnation of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria has caused serious reaction among the Turkish public as well as political circles.
The League stated that Turkey’s operation was a violation of sovereignty of an Arab state and also evaluated it as a threat to Syria’s territorial integrity. This is a huge misrepresentation of Turkey’s operation.
In contrast to what the Arab League stated Turkey’s operation aims to liberate northern Syria from the control of a terrorist organization PYD/YPG, which is an offshoot of internationally recognized terrorist organization PKK. The operation also aims to allow millions of displaced Syrian Arabs as well as Kurds and Turkmens to return to their homeland.
Therefore, it is quite obvious that Turkey’s operation is in line with the foundational objectives of the Arab League, which is to defend the rights of the Arabs.
It is absurd and paradoxical for the Arab League, which is driven by powerful countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to condemn Turkey’s operation that is clearly in favor of millions of Syrian Arabs.
It is paradoxical that the Arab League is defending the Syrian regime, which it had expelled in 2011 following the Assad regime’s violent repression of peaceful anti-Assad Syrians.
By backing the Assad regime that is believed to be responsible for the deaths and expulsion of millions of Syria’s Arabs, the Arab League simply disregards the rights and dignity of millions of Arabs living in Turkey waiting a safe and secure return to their homes.
In fact, following the launch of Turkey’s operation, the Arab League accelerated the process of readmission of Syrian regime into the league. During the emergency meeting on Oct. 12, countries such as Iraq and Lebanon called for Syria to return to the Arab League.
Despite these efforts, it remains unclear how some of the Arab League members will work with Syrian regime while some others have been working to topple it.
Another hypocritical approach of the Arab League is their silence on massive destruction inflicted by the United States and Russia in Syria in the name of fighting terrorism.
The armies of these two countries have destroyed the main Syrian cities such as Aleppo and Raqqa and killed a large number of civilians and displaced more than 5 million Syrians.
The Arab League has never made a statement or condemned these two countries’ excessive military use.
On the other hand, the League condemned Turkey’s operation in northern Syria, despite Turkish army’s proven record in protecting civilians and residential areas in all its previous operations in Jarablus and Afrin where life has returned to normalcy.
A final paradox with the Arab League’s position toward Turkey and its military operation is their double standard toward the Syrian people. As President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked the anti-Turkey camp within the Arab League, mainly Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE: “How many Syrian Arabs have you accepted to your countries.”
It should be underlined that as some of the richest members of the Arab League, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have refused to accept Syrian refugees. In light of this fact, the criticism of the Arab League about Turkey’s Syria policy, does not offer any promise that Turkey has already been fulfilling since the start of civil war in 2012.
It must be underlined that many members of the Arab League, such as Qatar and Somalia expressed their disagreement with the Arab League statement, while Morocco distanced itself by saying that the Arab League statement does not reflect the view of Rabat leadership.
Stance defies popular sentiment
In addition to that, the official response of some Arab League countries against Turkey does not also represent the popular view of these countries.
It is a well-known fact that the “Arab Street” has been strongly in favor of Turkey’s leadership, when it comes to the defense of Palestinian rights, the Syrian and Iraqi refugees’ rights or defending popular revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria.
The Arab streets remain pessimistic of their own governments’ ability to defend the rights of Arab citizens and their fundamental rights anywhere in the region.
These paradoxes and contradictions notwithstanding, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have forced many smaller Arab countries to issue the statement.
These three countries are known for supporting the establishment of a PYD-led entity in Northern Syria that aims to disintegrate Syria.
Officials in Egypt have frequently met with members of the terrorist organization; Saudi Arabia and the UAE have dispatched troops to the region.
In May 2018, a military delegation from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan visited Ayn al-Arab (Kobani), which was controlled by the PYD/YPG in Northern Syria and held meetings with the leadership of the terrorist organization.
More recently the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi invited PYD/YPG leaders Riyad Derrar and Ilham Ahmed, who paid a visit to Egyptian capital Cairo on October 13, 2019 and met with the Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. During the meeting, Egyptian foreign minister failed to confirm his country’s commitment to the territorial integrity of Syria to which his guests from PYD/YPG have been a known detractor.
It is obvious that these three countries aim to undermine Syria’s territorial integrity that would directly undermine Turkey’s own security if part of Syrian territory is controlled by an internationally recognized terrorist group. On the other hand, Turkey aims to facilitate the return of one million Arab refugees; many of them were forcefully expelled by the PYD/YPG from their homeland in northern Syria.
U.S., Israel nexus
The anti-Turkey trio, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have shared interests in being the closest allies of the United States.
They have been supporting the U.S.-led “Deal of Century” that many Arab countries including the Palestinian leadership has already rejected. These three Arab countries are now on good terms with Israel.
The three countries represent the U.S.-Israeli axis inside the Arab League. These countries have been supporting, arming or financing the counter-revolution forces in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, including supporting the bloodshed that killed thousands of peaceful protesters in Egypt in 2013.
Following the government reshuffle in Saudi Arabia in 2015, despite the favorable relations and constructive dialogue between President Erdogan and Saudi King Salman, certain factions in the Saudi government have been pursuing quite hostile policies against Turkey, presumably at the behest of the U.S. and Israel.
The Abu Dhabi government is not only making moves against Turkey’s policies in the Middle East, it is also leading the boycott attempts against the Arab countries who have maintained good relations with Turkey. Along with this, the UAE leadership intends to prevent Turkey from having an influence on a wide geography by conducting destructive policies against Turkey’s constructive initiatives stretching from the Horn of Africa to the Balkans.
At this juncture, it is questionable how sincere the Arab League is for defending the Arab peoples’ interests and rights in Syria where Turkey aims to protect territorial integrity of Syria so that the Syrian refugees in Turkey can return to their homes once again, after having been displaced by PYD/YPG terrorist organization.
The founding mission of the Arab League is to protect the rights of the Arab people, now being defended by Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring. By supporting the YPG/PYD against Turkey, the Arab League is ignoring its fundamental duty for which it was created a long time ago.
* Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.