Ambassador Bilgiç’s Letter In Response To Times Article , 14.10.2014
10 October 2014
I was appalled to see your article “Saving Kobani” (9 October 2014, Editorial) claiming “so far Turkey has sent only a lorry load of medical supplies to the besieged Kurds of Kobani and has otherwise confined itself to the role of spectator”. These claims not only ignore the threat that these terrorists groups pose to Turkey but also disregard the sacrifice of Turkish people and security forces as well as Turkey’s comprehensive humanitarian aid campaign.
Turkey hosts more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees as part of a historical humanitarian effort and helps many more in Iraq. The number exceeds even the populations of some EU countries. The humanitarian assistance of Turkey to those refugees reached 4 billion USD (almost 2.5 billion GBP). These figures can provide a better picture that Turkey shoulders the “role of the United Nations” instead of confining itself to the “role of spectator”.
From the outset, Turkey handled Ayn Al Arab/Kobani issue with utmost sensitivity. The recent developments regarding Kobani is part of the developments in entire Syria. Trying to read a conflict, which has claimed over 200 thousand lives, only through developments in Kobani is not correct.
It is not possible to close our borders to those coming from Syria due to legal and humanitarian considerations. There are now almost 200 thousand people in Turkey from only Kobani region. They fled to Turkey within one week. Despite the risks, Turkey, through mobilising its resources, continues to maintain an open door policy for people coming to its borders, regardless of their ethnic identity. Humanitarian aid is also being sent to Kobani region. Turkey also retaliated the threats and attacks from ISIL from its territory, in conformity with its rules of engagement.
Turkey’s sensitivity is not exclusively limited to a certain region or group in Syria. Reflecting this sensitivity, Turkey’s calls against ISIL advancement towards Turkoman settlement, namely Tel Abyad and Çobanbey (where there are two border gates as in Kobani), a few months ago fell into deaf ears. We should not be selective while reflecting upon and managing the reactions of public opinion. Selective approaches do not present the whole picture to the readers. Limited strategies do not lead to comprehensive solutions.
ISIL has been able to dig in thanks to the air support of the regime in Damascus. Therefore, a no-fly-zone (NFZ) to enforce a safe haven is of vital importance. We cannot solve the current problems as long as we don’t implement NFZ. The strategy should also include elements against the re-deployment of regime elements or various terrorist structures to the areas where ISIL would be eliminated from.
I hope that the Times would be more scrupulous on publishing articles which respects more the political and historical realities and I would very much appreciate it if my response is published in the “Letters to the Editor”.