The following article appeared in ‘The Guardian’ newspaper on Monday 20 October. It was submitted by Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey’s minister for foreign affairs.
We can no longer continue to act like the UN. A global response to the crisis in Syria and Iraq is imperative.
The plight of the small town of Kobani has become the focus of the world’s attention amid the devastation and misery of Syria. With each day the reign of terror of Islamic State (Isis) has been moving too close for comfort.
It’s worth remembering that Kobani was not Isis’s first target – the extremists have overrun a vast terrain from Azzaz in Syria to Kirkuk in Iraq. Just as they have been driving the Kurds out of Kobani they have killed, intimidated and driven Turkomans out of Çobanbey on the Turkish border; Arabs in Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and Mosul; Yazidis in Sinjar; and Christians in Aleppo. The tales of horror there are just as atrocious.
With a 1,295km border with Syria and Iraq, this is a danger felt far more acutely by Turkey than any other country. It is a matter of the greatest national security to see the threat of extremism disappear from our neighbourhoods. We are ready, able and willing to do our part to this end – after all, we know only too well the toll of terrorism. Turkey will always be on the frontline in combating terror, including this new menace.
We have opened up our borders and embraced all those from Kobani who wish take refuge in Turkey. We have provided Kobani with all the humanitarian aid possible. We have acted in full cooperation with the international coalition. We are also facilitating the passage of Kurdish peshmerga forces to Kobani. We will continue our contribution to saving the town so its residents can go back to their homes.
Beyond Kobani, effective action requires a clear strategy and endgame. Everyone has to be prepared to play their part, and nobody should be left to bear the consequences alone. Isis is the product of a bigger evil. Not only the fertile ground offered by instability in Syria, but also the ardent support of the regime has helped terrorist groups grow. The regime was Isis’s patron, with the intention that it would eradicate the Syrian opposition, together with the legitimate demands of the Syrian people. But Bashar al-Assad’s plan backfired. Isis grew out of control, fed by the territory and weapons it seized in Iraq.
In Kobani, nearly 400 people have died in the past three weeks. In Syria, more than 200,000 people have died since the regime chose to wage war against its own people, more than three years ago. The regime has not hesitated to use heavy artillery against civilian neighbourhoods or fire ballistic missiles. Airborne attacks and barrel bombs have become a daily routine. It even used chemical weapons. As long as this regime remains, Syria will not be stable and secure: violence, particularly terrorism, will continue to emerge – the regime has no qualms about using any method that will keep it in power. The root causes must be tackled. Read the rest of the article