Rotten theories about Turkey running amok in the Arab world

Yasin Aktay

It may be new to the social media scene, but after spreading like wildfire following its launch, Clubhouse is now a serious meeting and discussion platform. It is easy to form chat rooms, and logging on and off is not a hassle. In fact, if the moderation is up to scratch, people from all walks of life can discuss any subject without being censored. Everybody has the opportunity to become a moderator for a discussion, and carry it on with dozens, hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of people without any time restriction at all. It seems certain that such a new media platform will bring a fresh dimension to the public domain and social media environment, as well as the atmosphere of democratic discussion.

This platform drew rapid interest in Turkey as well, however, it is possible to say that it is much more effective and spreading a lot faster in the Arab world. The Arabic-language chat rooms have greater crowds, where numerous sensitive subjects are discussed comfortably. Hence, this platform has now become a major problem that the groups, which silenced all alternative press after suppressing the Arab Spring, need to deal with.

The previous evening, I joined a chat room attended by hundreds of people from the Arab world upon the invitation of a group of journalists working at Al-Jazeera. The discussion that lasted three-and-a-half hours explored subjects such as the institutional state of government-opposition relations in Turkey, the new constitutional procedures, and relations between Turkey and the Arab world. Attendees included journalists, academics and politicians from every Arab country who supported Turkey, those who were indifferent to or against it.

Moderated by Al-Jazeera’s Ahmed Al-Bagari, the discussion gave me the opportunity to answer extremely serious and frank questions, particularly concerning relations between Turkey and the Arab world. Time and again participants debated among themselves a question that was directed at me. Here I would like to mention certain dialogues in relation to questions that are subject to propaganda and also receives a great response in the Arab world.

One Arab journalist, claiming that Turkey occupied Arab land by way of annexing Hatay in 1993 through a fait accompli, asked whether Turkey now has the intention to repeat the same thing in Idlib or certain areas of Syria. We already know that part of this claim and discourse is mentioned quite frequently in Arab media.

What makes a territory Arab land?

I responded to some questions with questions of my own. For example: What makes a territory Arab?

Is it the ability of Arab administrators to have free rein over the lives, properties, dignity, minds, and religion of Arab citizens, disregarding that they are in fact human beings? Is it their ability to slaughter them, seize their properties, and exile them as they see fit? Are you truly prepared to face this question? If there was a referendum in Idlib or general election in Syria today, would they all want to live under Bashar Assad, who is an Arab, or under Turkey’s rule? Why is it that the approximately 4-5 million Syrians, who have taken refuge in Turkey, do not choose to live under the Arab Assad administration or in any other Arab country, but choose to live under Turkey’s protection? Is the choice of the 10 million Syrians in Turkey and northern Syria not obvious enough? Have they not made their message clear enough by joining Turkey?

So, the Arab leaders, who indifferently watch the massacres, exile and tortures faced by millions of people on TV, who show no real reaction against another Arab authority, who is able to brutally massacre a million Arab people without batting an eyelid, are not the real occupiers of Arab land, but Turkey, a country that has provided nothing other than protection to Arabs who sought refuge, that saved their lives and provided them safety and a living is occupying Arab territory? What sort of a mentality is this?

Are the putschists, terrorists who fled Turkey and the oppressed who sought refuge in Turkey equals?

One other participant did not ask but claimed that many from among the millions of people who fled the pressure and torture in their own country to Turkey, which has been a sanctuary for them, also fled from Turkey to other countries, that they sought refuge especially in European countries, and that this asylum is proof of Turkey’s torture.

This claim is one that is made particularly by the supporters and followers of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which many in Europe and the Arab world will happily believe.

They think that they can classify in the same category those were forced to flee Syria, Egypt and Yemen with those who fled legal proceedings due to the clear terror crimes they committed in Turkey. Of course, that person received their answer:

In the current day and age, Turkey does not treat any individual or community unjustly. Torture is not tolerated in prisons, even if people are convicted. Prisons are also open to audits by international institutions.

Those who have fled and migrated in this sense are not civilians, Kurds, or the political opposition; they are direct members of an armed terrorist organization, or they are affiliated with this organization. Yet, unfortunately European countries knowingly protect these people and use them against Turkey.

Furthermore, this propaganda has lately been spread by FETÖ terrorists as much as, or even more than the PKK.

They, on the other hand, are abroad not because they are political dissidents, but because they were involved in the military coup that led to the death and injury of hundreds of people, and are running from paying the price they thus deserve.

So, they are using this propaganda to exact their vengeance on the failed coup attempt.