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Erdogan’s Consistency Problem: Good Killers VS Bad Killers

Erdogan’s Consistency Problem: Good Killers VS Bad Killers

Since he came to power in 2002 President [and former prime minister] Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said countless times that “there should not be good and bad terrorists.”

He was right. Except that he has broken his dictum so many times and I called it; “Erdogan’s Consistency Problem”

On December 27 Mr. Erdogan said that [Syrian President Bashir] al-Assad was a terrorist who has carried out state terrorism. To agree or disagree with that assertion we would need a single definition of terrorism and state terrorism supported by international law and agreed upon by all nations. Which is not the case. All the same, there is an international consensus that al-Assad is not an angel, that he is a dictator who has killed or caused the deaths and/or the plight of hundreds of thousands of people, excluding millions of Syrian refugees who had to flee their country. Right? Right. With that fact, Erdogan has the liberty to call al-Assad a state terrorist. That’s fine too. And it is not where Erdogan has his usual consistency problem.

Only a few days before he declared al-Assad a terrorist he shook hands with Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan, 12 agreements in their portfolios, including military, and an agreement to set up a strategic cooperation council. It was not a Kodak-moment Mr. Erdogan’s grandchildren will love to recall.

Mr al-Bashir came to power in a coup in 1989 when Sudan was in the midst of a bloody civil war. In Darfur, he was accused of organizing war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC). An international arrest warrant issued by the ICC followed. The genocide accusations against Mr al-Bashir were:

– Killing members of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups

– Causing these groups serious bodily or mental harm

– Inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about these groups’ physical destruction

The crimes against humanity included murder, extermination, forcible transfer, rape and torture. His war crimes were listed as attacks on civilians in Darfur and pillaging towns and villages.

According to prosecutors, government militia gangs backed by military and police helicopters looted and burned hundreds of villages, bombed schools, poisoned wells and engaged in systematic rape of women and girls. The United Nations estimates that about 300,000 people died and more than two million were driven from their homes.

These accusations, especially with their high mark of seal by the ICC, are no fun. They are funny, though, according to Mr. Erdogan. “When he [Mr al-Bashir] was in Istanbul we got notice from the ICC for his arrest,”

Erdogan said. “We just laughed it off. It was ridiculous.”

About The Author

Burak Bekdil

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based Turkish political columnist who wrote for Hurriyet Daily News [formerly Turkish Daily News] for 29 years. He has covered Turkey for the U.S. weekly Defense News since 1997. Previously, Bekdil worked as Ankara Bureau Chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He contributes to annual national defense sector reviews for anti-corruption institutions like Transparency International and Global Integrity. Bekdil is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Middle East Quarterly. He also contributes to Perspectives, a journal of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv. James Cuno, art historian and President of the J. Paul Getty Trust, describes Bekdil as "a frequent critic of Prime Minister [now president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan." In 2001, a Heavy Crimes Court in Ankara sentenced Bekdil to a suspended, 20-month prison sentence for his column in which he satirized corruption in the judiciary. Bekdil's comments, quotes and articles have been published in international media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, The Commentator, New York Times, Kathimerini, National Review Online, Algemeiner, NPR, Washington Times, Die Presse, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Toronto Star, Financial Times, Al-Monitor, Le Figaro, ABC, El Pais, Stern, Al-Arabiya, Helsingin Sanomat, Racjonalista, Defence Greece, Moyen-Orient, Courier International, ISN Security Watch and Coloquio (of Congreso Judio Latinoamerico) and the Jewish Chronicle (London). (Born: Ankara, 1966; Undergraduate: Department of Economics, Middle East Technical University, Ankara; Post-graduate: Department of Economics, University of Surrey, United Kingdom)

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