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The not so democratic face of democracy

Mahmudur Rahman   | Published: October 12, 2019 21:54:27


It couldn't have been scripted better. Turkey's assault on hapless Syrians to create a buffer zone for apparent Syrian refugees that it has had to endure with met with no resistance from Russia, the US and not even poor Syria itself. A limp statement by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gueteress was expectedly delivered and some 70 thousand people are expected to flee inwards away from the border between Syria and Turkey. All of this happened literally within hours of the announced withdrawal of US forces from Syria after their thumb-sucking assuredness that the Islamic State had been defeated and therefore it was hereafter an 'unnecessary war'.

President Donald Trump had said during his election campaign that he would withdraw US troops from such unnecessary wars and the signs were clear much earlier. It had taken Russian military intervention to defeat the IS and showed the United States up for what it has always been; unable to win any war since the Second World War.

In effect, the US has allowed Turkey to do as it pleased after having rallied against them for buying oil from the IS controlled oil fields in Syria, almost collapsing the Turkish economy over the extrication of a US priest to a dubious agreement and ignoring Turkish outrage in the murder of Adnan Khashoggi in order to please its ally, Saudi Arabia. This too after Khashoggi had been allowed asylum in the US while a second Turk was not handed over to the Turks for his alleged masterminding of an attempted coup. Turkey's President Erdoggan has since seen sense in not pursuing his coup masterminds.

All of this is coming from a country that had previously been a staunch ally of the US and whose entry to the European Union was about to happen. And the weapons that Turkey is using against Syria are mostly US supplied. No wonder when Erdoggan wants to buy missile defence systems from Russia, the US warns it won't sell its fighter jets to the Turks in the future.

Everyone talks of peace and stability in the middle-east with the Syrian proxy war fought by the US and Russia being the only aspect the super powers got personally involved in on the pretext of defeating the IS. Yemen's bloody war doesn't have the two world powers in proxy combat but all the weaponry is being blatantly or indirectly supplied by them. Mr. Trump doesn't tweet about such matters because it all contributes to making America greater again. Mr. Putin never was a prolific tweeter.

Mr. Erdoggan has taken the bit between his teeth for the sole purpose of preventing the Kurdish citizens of Syria access to Turkish soil. Yet many of these Kurds are part of the Syrian opposition that has been fighting President Bashar Al Assad's regime. They were persecuted during Saddam rule in Iraq, even under the current Iraqi leadership and are fast being relegated to the status of the Palestinians. The difference lies in that the Palestinians have earth under their feet in the form of a land of their own, however brittle. The Turkish President's rule is wobbling as is his country's economy. He has yet to address what he intends to do with the IS forces that mingled with the refugees on way to Turkey. Chances of his risking their presence are slim. The buffer zone might help in a way but Western nations are not in the mood to take back nationals of their country that were directly supportive of and took part in the IS battle in the Middle East. The surprise factor is Russia. Having openly supported and in fact, propped up President Assad against the rebels and their proxy friends, it has said nothing so far. Pushing it to the damp rag, UN wouldn't help in any way except periodic ceasefire.

Nationalistic sentiments in recent times tell that the schism between government and citizens over governance and democracy is increasing. In the more orderly Western demonstrations over climate change and livelihood issues have taken on new and ugly remonstrations. Where democracy doesn't exist in essence, media reports don't , can't tell the truth as it is, but one suspects the situation is no different, perhaps even simmering.  The Brexit issue tells us democracy is being lost faith in as voters realise they made mistake. Next year the Americans will get the chance to express themselves again. This year the Senate and Congressional elections sent messages that Mr. Trump cannot have ignored. Mr. Erdoggan was voted back in power in elections that had questions around them. His party's loss in municipal elections suggests the Turkish public too are growing impatient.

mahmudrahman@gmail.com

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