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World Gone Wrong

World Gone Wrong

“World Gone Wrong” is the title of Bob Dylan’s 29th studio album released in 1993. Having read the news it was impossible not to recall the album title and make a small mental journey into the near past.

“Syria begins presidency of UN disarmament forum,” read the headline. What to say? Hillel Neuer, the always brilliant executive director of UN Watch, put it most realistically: “Having the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad preside over global chemical and nuclear weapons disarmament is like putting a serial rapist in charge of a women’s shelter.”

In a “world gone wrong,” however, that piece of news should be hardly surprising. We have not reached this point overnight. In 2010 then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan proudly won the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights.

Then we had Saudi Arabia, which Douglas Murray in the Gatestone Institute named as the “world’s human rights sewer,” was appointed in 2015 as head of a top panel of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) – the panel selects leading officials for the task of shaping international standards in human rights, and it reports on human rights violations around the world.

Mr Neuer commented at the time: “It is scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] to be head of a key human rights panel. Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights.”

This author’s column in Hurriyet Daily News in October 2015 was “Assad for OPWC!”

The column went on: “Your columnist would suggest that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should quit and be nominated for the chair of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

“The ideal chair for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization could be the (then) Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani. Mr Rouhani can be assisted in this position by his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un. Both men can also act as rotating chairmen for the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“There is too little room for dispute for the position of the chair for the International Court of Justice. There is only one man among the world’s most respected statesmen who would deserve the seat, and he is Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan.

“Had he not died, Pablo Escobar could have been a successful candidate for the chair of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. In his absence, the job could be best performed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.”

Saudi Arabia and human rights… And now Syria and disarmament. When President Erdoğan’s term ends he should be nominated to chair Transparency International or Council of Europe.

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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