EMRE – DavutoIlu relies on tired tactics before the CFR

DavutoIlu relies on tired tactics before the CFRIn a bid to influence potential investors, Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu visited New York, during which time he answered questions at the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). These answers were later shared on CFRand#39s official website.

I believe it is worth noting that I have never witnessed DavutoIlu having this much difficulty trying to provide answers. In his speech, he relied on comparisons with the failures of the 1990s in Turkey in order to highlight the successes of the past decade.

In doing so, he resolutely refused to analyze only the past 12 years of Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule. However, the moderator was not convinced.

After all, DavutoIlu employed a tactic that might be useful for tricking the most devoted AKP partisans, but not any objective observers. So after noting his appreciation of the various AKP successes over the past decade, the moderator re-posed his question about what Turkey can and will do to revive growth while avoiding runway inflation, this time pointing to negative economic indicators like the past yearand#39s high inflation rate, the Turkish liraand#39s loss in value and so on.

To this DavutoIlu responded by noting the strict financial discipline in place in Turkey and once again avoided answering the question directly. In short, it was quite clear that neither DavutoIluand#39s speech nor his tactical maneuvers were very convincing.

A bit later, questions were posed regarding the autonomy of the Turkish Central Bank and the recent pressure being placed on the institution by President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan.In response, DavutoIlu asserted that in other democratic countries, criticism of the central banks was quite normal, noting that in the end it was more important to focus not on what anyone was saying, but on what sort of decisions were being rendered by the bank.

I am pretty sure not even the pro-government media andldquochorusandrdquo in attendance believed any of what he was saying.Another question posed to DavutoIlu concerned press freedom and the controversial domestic security bill, the latter causing the greatest difficulty for DavutoIlu when it came to providing answers.

He first replied by saying that such a law exists in all EU countries. He then repeated some classic rhetoric about press freedoms, saying things like, andldquoWe support freedom to its full extent, but insults need to remain separate from this.

andrdquo When the moderator then interjected to ask who exactly was to make the decisions as to what constitutes insults, DavutoIlu provided a vague answer focusing on societal values.But when it came to a question about what sparked the need for a new domestic security bill, since there is purportedly no need for it, here DavutoIlu truly fell apart.

He first pointed out that similar laws exist in the West, and then went on to say that the democratization reforms passed in 2004 had created a wide space for rights. In fact, he said, this was done to the extent that it even tied the hands of the police, which the AKP realized during the recent events of Oct.

6-7, 2014. He said that in response to this, they had decided to tighten the screws a little bit.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of DavutoIluand#39s speech before the CFR came in his answers to questions about foreign policy and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in particular Those who follow DavutoIlu somewhat closely know that one of his favorite and time-tested tactics is to, when squeezed on a question concerning policy, point to another country and say something along the lines of, andldquoBut when they do the same thing, you donand#39t say anything.andrdquo Not surprisingly, this was the tactic he turned to in response to criticism about Turkeyand#39s stance towards the declining relations between Russia and Ukraine, as well as to ISIL.

Here was one question, andldquoWhy are you not abiding by the embargo against Russia?andrdquo It is a question with heavy content and DavutoIlu replied: andldquoWith Russia supporting Assad in Syria, and thus prolonging the civil unrest there, why did the West not respond by putting an embargo on Russia then? Why did it place the embargo in response to Russiaand#39s actions in Ukraine? Do those being killed need to be Christian in order to elicit an embargo from the West?andrdquoThis is precisely the kind of rhetoric that distances Turkey from the West. It is Turkeyand#39s most isolating stance constantly turning to questions about why others did the same thing without it eliciting criticism, the constant use of excuses created by countries locked in eternal conflicts with the international system This is precisely the tactic used by DavutoIlu.

He returns to this self-sabotaging rhetoric again and again.Questions about Turkeyand#39s stance towards ISIL elicited similar responses from DavutoIlu.

In response to a query about why Turkey was not sealing off its southern borders, DavutoIlu first explained at length just how difficult that would be and then went on to say something quite striking: andldquoYou ask why we donand#39t seal off our borders to prevent foreign fighters from joining ISIL in Syria, but why do you not make the same requests of Lebanon or Iraq? Hezbollah forces head from Lebanon over to Syria, as do Shiite militants, all in an effort to support Assad. In fact, one country [Iran] even has official military units fighting alongside Assad.

Why do you not say the same things to these countries?andrdquoIand#39m certain this will be quite an eye-opening answer for many Western observers, who are likely to read these words as follows: Turkey has staked out sides in the Sunni-Shiite clashes in the region. In essence, Turkey is allowing al-Qaeda style militants to slip over its borders into Syria in order to fight against the Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite forces fighting alongside Assad in SyriaAnd in fact, DavutoIluand#39s statements were eye-opening for me too.

If the reality is that Hezbollah and Shiite militants — not to mention official units of the Iranian military — are fighting in Syria alongside Assad, is it really Turkeyand#39s solution to then allow Sunni al-Qaeda style militants to cross its borders into that mess? Is there really no other solution to this? How can there even be any indication that this is somehow a legitimate tactic as it equals out the entrance into Syria of foreign Shiite fighters?I believe the strongest mark left behind in the wake of DavutoIluand#39s New York visit is the attempt to respond to the Westand#39s criticism that Turkey is allowing individuals to pass through its borders in order to join ISIL in Syria with questions about why the West is not opposing or trying to block the entrance of Shiite fighters (like Hezbollah) into Syria It is a stance that pretty well sums up Turkeyand#39s approach to the situation.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman