Russia’s humanity caught in Syria’s quagmire - YASIN AKTAY

Russia’s humanity caught in Syria’s quagmire

As many as one million people have fled their homes as a result of the regime’s Russia-backed attacks in Idlib that have been ongoing for some time now. As expected, these people have set off to Turkey and, as a matter of fact, they have reached the border. In the meantime, the full extent of the human tragedies taking place has reached a fever pitch.

Let everyone continue asking how Russia is allowing itself to be used by the regime for such a massacre, and how it can make such a violation despite the Sochi deal. The Russian Defense Ministry recently made a statement accusing Turkey with respect to what has been happening in Idlib. According to the statement, the main cause of the crisis is said to be “Turkey’s failure to differentiate between the moderate opposition and terrorists.”

What an inhumane, irresponsible statement. We immediately asked them a question. What two things are the easiest to differentiate: Babies in the cradle and terrorists or armed-moderate opposition and terrorists? Is it easier to differentiate between patients and the wounded receiving treatment at a hospital and terrorists armed with their weapons or two groups that are both armed and anti-regime, while one has concealed itself well and carried out its operations secretly? Do we currently have a million refugees at our border because Russia is able to differentiate very well between armed terrorists and the armed opposition group?

The state of these refugees is clear. There is blindness not with respect to fighting terrorism but with respect to differentiating between terrorists and children. Of course, a possibility worse than turning a blind eye is a genocide and a program of forced displacement that is ongoing in an effort to deliberately exile a nation. If this is not the case, how is it that bombs targeting terrorists find thousands of children, hospitals and bakeries?

Even in the case of mutual agreement with respect to Turkey experiencing difficulties differentiating between terrorists and the armed opposition, the result of this would be no more than some terrorists temporarily thinking they have gained a little more time. Yet, what is the logic, the plan or conscientious measure behind causing such a humanitarian disaster while intending to target terrorists?

The moral legitimacy of fighting terrorism is terrorist activities that target civilians, defenseless and unrelated people. If you are killing civilians and children while aiming to fight terrorists and, additionally, if you are exiling those remaining – especially in the midst of a grueling winter – the only thing that differentiates you from terrorists is that you are a greater, more ruthless, bloody and immoral terror machine.

The most important aspect of the deals struck in Astana and Sochi is that the methods the Iranian and Russian side adopted to deal with the opposition to the Syrian regime have drowned Syria in blood, while making life unbearable for the people of Syria, and thus, their acceptance of the right to rebel as a result of the massacres and pressures they faced. In other words, after it was accepted for the first time in Astana that the current regime in Syria has a legitimacy problem in the eyes of its own people and that this problem indispensably given rise to the right for an armed and legitimate opposition, it was agreed in Sochi that the problems between this opposition and the regime could be solved through a political process.

Of course, the details of how this would work was going to be discussed. However, as the methods the regime in Syria is employing to fight its own opposition have targeted all civilians living in that region rather than the armed opposition alone, it is leading to mass migration in Syria. Those who have managed to find a way to go abroad have already gone, but Idlib is the only place remaining in Syria to take shelter for those who have not had such an opportunity. As the sole shelter in Syria for the opposition in Syria, Idlib’s status, position and specialty are obvious. Idlib is the product of the Syrian regime’s inhumane and tyrant practices.

The Astana and Sochi agreements stipulated that neither the regime nor Russia decide on Syria’s future by destroying all opposition members through massacres. The price this method, which has been used to date, has caused the whole world is clear: the massacre of at least one million people, with at least the same number of people lost and wounded, cities burned down, the internal displacement and migration abroad of 12 million Syrians.

The Syrian regime is not fighting against an outside force but against its own people. In its war against its own people, using the most ruthless and inhumane methods, it is receiving support from Iran and Russia. It is beyond reason based on what plans and calculations Russia and Iran have accepted to be partners in crime with someone who is carrying out genocide on its own people.

While the alliance in Sochi and Astana has already accepted that Idlib is an asylum for at least part of the opposition as part of the political solution and negotiations, what is being done now is to use the terrorists there as an excuse to eliminate all opposition and leave no grounds for negotiation.

This path the Syrian regime has resorted to under Russia’s guidance is unacceptable. Because while the regime is committing an incomparable crime against humanity in efforts to destroy the vast majority of its people to protect its own guilty regime, Turkey, in particular, is made to pay the bill.

What Bashar Assad is thus doing is to steer its own internal opposition problem towards Turkey, which already constitutes a pressing security problem for Turkey. The matter has long stopped being Syria’s internal problem.

Even if Russia has no conscience with regards to humanitarians sensibilities, which prompt it to help and protect this guilty regime, it needs to see the security problem it has caused for Turkey and pull back from between them.

As Assad and Russia are killing the Syrian people, they are now also, inevitably, attacking Turkey. This is the reality of the situation and, Turkey, as it is burdened with all the costs and consequences of the situation, is doing what is necessary to defend itself.


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