Monday, June 29, 2009

Davutoğlu, the architect, miserably fails to deliver

Published in Hurriyet Daily News on June 27-28, 2009-
-Hurriyet Daily News'te, 27-28 Haziran 2009 Tarihinde Yayinlanmis Makalem-
Ahmet Davutoğlu has been a forceful architect of Turkish foreign affairs as the top adviser to the prime minister since the first Justice and Development Party, or AKP, administration up until recently. With a PhD degree in his pocket and as the author of Strategic Depth, a book that has come to be known by the experts as a total sum of sense making and friendly policies for the immediate neighboring countries of Turkey, he has been a rising star for years. His role in the Armenian rapprochement, as well as diplomatic facilitator between Syria and Israel, and also his vision and familiarity with the wider region has been a great asset for Turkey. His many policies have benefited Turkey on many fronts. In brief, many thought that Davutoğlu has been on the way of becoming a statesman that Turkey has been longing for some time.

Up until two months ago, Davutoğlu was still kind of a behind-the-scenes man to fix and power the Turkish foreign affairs in recasting Turkey's role in the multidimensional political arena. Thus, many unbiased observers were happy without much reservation when Davutoğlu was appointed the new foreign minister at the beginning of May. Amid high expectations, he started his new post and with the same speed, he delved into the first crucial foreign relations test to prove that he indeed will live up to the expectations. Many, including myself, hoped that he was going to end the period of cheap shots and will bring our country to the same level of first class democratic nations.

There is no need to make the story longer. Davutoğlu failed to deliver miserably. To begin with, he let Turkey congratulate hurriedly Iran's Ahmadinejad as one of the first to do so, and subsequently backed up his stance. While the respected leaders of the world were releasing statements and giving press conferences to let people know how sorry they were with the shameful episode the people of Iran have been going through, Turkey, on the other hand, busied itself to support the merciless regime against its own people. I was curious to learn which other countries besides ours rushed to convey their good wishes to Ahmadinejad. The official Web site of the government of Iran informs us that, possibly according to calling order, the following list of countries cheered Ahmadinejad's reelection (!): Afghanistan, Turkey, Venezuela, China, Russia and Syria. Oh, and the leader of Hamas and a few "other" countries of kings and dictators. If nothing else, this list alone tells us and provides enough evidence to show in which and whose pattern our foreign official's mind works.

Notwithstanding that I still wanted to see and read what is the reasoning behind Davutoğlu's hurry and subsequent backing of Iran's Islamic regime, I must say that in my view it is a plain disgrace for Turkey and the people of Turkey. I thought after all Davutoğlu was a "deep" academic and might have some profound comprehension beyond our imagination. According to the interview Der Spiegel conducted with him this week, his reasoning is as follows: "It was politically important for the elections in Iran to have taken place dynamically and in competition among multiple candidates. When it came to the post-election discussions, [Davutoğlu] underlined that this is an internal matter for Iran, adding that they hoped for a strong base on which the security of the people of Iran can be achieved." Internal affairs of other countries, so Davutoğlu says while describing the events that are taking place in Iran after the elections, much like Russia's, China's and others' congratulating letters to Iran.

On the other hand, the American media mocked Turkey as a "friend of Mahmoud" and sadly describes us as a kind of low life country with the other countries mentioned above, that only looks after its own interests. It is true; each country pursues its own interests in the international arena; however, values and notions exist that reflect a country's stand within the international community. In other words, once the human factor is weighed, modern states tend to restrain themselves in many ways. Ours did not bother to do so.

This miscalculated congratulation of and embracing Iran's rulers is a "deep" blow for Turkey's image. It seems that Turkey somehow cannot go beyond this narrow-mindedness. In the past, Turkey failed to cope with its center parties' corruption practices and always with its never-changing opposition leaders. Either the nationalistic parties of the country corner Turkey and don't let Turkey open its arms to all of its people, or the ultranationalists stroke it with their endless gangs and scenarios. Though now, with the AKP, Turkey is going through another kind of disappointment. And the list does not end there.

Turkey needs a new generation of statesmen. Davutoğlu and his party's miscalculated reading of the occurrences will cost the people of Turkey so dearly and will be felt for years to come. The real statesman should be able to on the right side of the history, or with the people who are on the right side of the history. Davutoğlu misses both and chooses to gain some near term benefits in expense of bigger and longer ones. Davutoğlu could have taken care of this business if he wanted to do so. With doing so, he and Turkey would have won so many hearts and minds in the international arena and in the West. But again, maybe the target was a different kind of audience.Davutoğlu, the architect, starts to build the foundation of his legacy as a foreign minister on misread previsions and shallow seas, which are the direct opposite attributions of his perceived image. People of Turkey, who also watch what happened in Iran, will have grasped how their administration hugs the crushers of innocent people. The AKP will pay the cost of this misery. Alas, along the way, Turkey as well.

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