When you do a favor for someone, you expect some appreciation and praise in return. But the idea of kindness is a matter of perspective, varying from person to person. Unfortunately, you might be criticized for your good deeds, which otherwise should be commended. Turkey’s foreign policy in recent years has received criticism along the same lines.
Remember that Turkey helped millions of Syrians escape the war by hosting them, which it will continue to do an indefinite period time. When migrants were headed to Europe, the European Union almost begged the Turkish government to keep them in Turkey and agreed to pay 3 billion euros (over $3.4 billion) every year. The Union also promised to resume negotiations to renew the customs union agreement and lift visas for Turks, but it did not.
Besides breaching the terms of the agreement, the EU and generally the West, particularly the media, have unfairly targeted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and claimed that the Turkish president uses migrants as a weapon against Europe. The blatant propaganda was made viral and Turkey was portrayed as a racketeer instead of a savior. There was even the risk of dissolution of the EU but the Turkish government was held guilty anyway. Thus, the favor was turned into a sinister act.
Another example is the introduction of armed drones by Turkish drone producer Baykar Company. Named as Bayraktar, Turkish drones changed the course of the war in Syria, Libya and especially Karabakh. The indigenously manufactured drones are also threatening Russian-backed separatist groups in Donbass area of Ukraine. Russia is quite nervous about the sale of Bayraktar TB2s to the Ukrainian army as it is well aware that they can destroy Russia’s armed vehicles and surface-to-air missile systems like Pantsir, which, if it happens, would mean another humiliation for the Russian defense industry.
Russia’s objection is understandable in light of the above concerns. But when Americans complain about Turkish drones, we should step back and debate their biased opposition toward Turkey: Don’t American pundits know that only Turkey has fought the Assad regime, backed by Russia and Iran, the two adversaries of the United States? Wasn’t it good to stop the influx of migrants in Idlib through military operations against Assad’s army? Can someone show any photos of civilians killed by Turkish drones in Syria, Libya or Karabakh? Can anyone prove where the drones were misused?
In Libya, didn’t Bayraktar TB2s defend the legal government against the putschist Khalifa Haftar? Was that action illegal in their view? If a country shows displeasure toward military operations against illegal armed groups, it means the country immorally supports illegitimate groups to pursue its own interests.
Regarding the Karabakh War, drones were used to retake occupied lands of Azerbaijan from Armenia. Americans and other western countries themselves approved in the United Nations that Karabakh belonged to Azerbaijan. So, why was it wrong to use the Bayraktars there? In addition, Azerbaijan imports 70% of its weapons from Israel but no one criticizes Tel Aviv for that. Aren’t such positions hypocritical?
As for Ukraine, it was the U.S. foreign ministry’s officials who provoked Ukrainians to ignite an uprising against the pro-Russia Ukrainian government. We may recall how Victoria Nuland and John McCain supported the transition of power, which became successful eventually. Therefore, Ukraine’s possession of Turkish-made drones did not become a flash point in tensions with Russia, as Washington Post claimed. On the contrary, it was the U.S. government officials who escalated tensions.
Moreover, Max Tegmark, a lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), should not be ashamed of having taught Turkey’s prominent drone manufacturer Selçuk Bayraktar while his university proudly praises its nine scientists that were involved in the production of the first atomic bomb.
Mr. Bayraktar’s drone technology has saved tens of thousands of innocent lives from the onslaught of terrorist groups. Contrary to that, the alumni from his alma mater enabled the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Despite criticisms, the Turkish government should do what it deems moral and humanitarian though it may further suffer for its commitment toward peace. It should teach that the world order is not anarchic at all and there are some governments that still stand on the right side and pursue the right policies.
First published in Daily Sabah