Syria and Turkey share more than an 800-km border, they also share a culture, a religion, and most importantly respect for each other’s history. Both countries experienced turmoil, greatness, and societal paradigm shifts that uprooted their people and cast doubt on their belief systems.
More recently, the country has extended a hand to the Syrian people like no other by opening its borders to Syrian refugees. At last count, there may be upward of 2.5 million Syrian refugees inside the Turkish territories on the Syrian borders.
For this gesture of kindness and great humanity, Syrians will always be grateful and thankful to this unique country straddling Europe and the Middle East with a keen ability to influence both. We thank it but without thanking Reccep Erdogan.
Why? Because the country is governed today by leaders who aided and abetted the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that will mirror Assad in its policies if ever it achieves power in Syria. Many Syrians fighting for freedom, human rights, and the democracy Lebanon enjoys, also without Hezbollah the terror organization, find this an appalling goal.
Most if not all are not fighting for Allah to rule through corrupt men, but rather for the freedom of choice many people living in democracies around the world experience. We aspire for freedom, not religious shackles.
Syrians struggle between the human side of Turkey and the goodwill of its people and the unfriendly aims of its religious government. We all would like to see the Turkey of yesteryear, fully tolerant and where religion is also a choice and not a political tool for greater powers.
Many of the Syrian refugees living in Turkey today would soon return to Syria. Unlike the Palestinians facing Israel backed by the United States, Syrians are facing Assad backed by Iran and Russia. Two backers who are fledgling and economically weak. The great Soviet Union collapsed because it could not sustain to live dangerously under its economic model. So will Putin’s Russia.