In the face of the magnitude of the human tragedy caused by the earthquake that just struck the border region between Turkey and Syria, there is no doubt that absolute priority must be focused on helping the victims. First, it’s basically about rescuing those still under the rubble, burying the dead with dignity, healing physical and psychological trauma, and then working together to rebuild and restore areas devastated not only by earthquakes but also by neglect and violence. But regardless of the most basic universal moral norms and the obligations of each country affected by this, it is immediately understood that political factors will largely determine how each actor calls for a response..
So while Turkey immediately declared alert level 4, which meant an international cry for help; Syria did not. In the first scenario, for a country already steeped in election campaigns, the earthquake could be the key to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s presidency for another five years or A powerful lever for the last funeral. Neither the precedent for responding to other disasters nor the current circumstances seem to favor a candidate who has exhausted most of the capital accumulated in his first 10 years in office – as the person in charge of ending the crisis the century began and improving the well-being of all people . Coupled with his authoritarian tendencies, Erdogan is aware that criticism of his management jeopardizes his dream of celebrating the centenary of modern Turkey at the presidential palace next year.
For this reason, in order to reverse the current opinion polls, it is to be expected that he will adequately «sell» the response to the earthquake as an example of the effectiveness of the state machine he presides over, activating all the mechanisms within its reach. In any case, it is surprising that it has yet to use its armed forces to a greater extent and openly fear that it has declared a state of emergency for the next three months as a way to facilitate the response for victims, as if it Not an additional tool to continue hindering the work of those who dare to oppose its design. Such is the coalition of six opposition parties united for a May 14 call next year, as well as the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) — a third parliamentary force ideologically on the pro-Kurdish democratic left — which is subject to legal action, The lawsuit seeks to outlaw its alleged links to the PKK, which is also classified as a terrorist by the EU and the US, even before the election call.
As far as the Syrian regime is concerned, it is once again showing clear signs of its obscurantism. In some cases, their attitude can be explained by their reluctance to look after their own part of the population that explicitly rejects a genocidal government. But on the other hand, it is unable to understand what is going on inside some provinces (notably Idlib and Aleppo), which is the simple result of its far from effective control. Currently, Damascus is reluctant to allow aid to flow beyond the Bab Al Hawa crossing, which is now effectively collapsed, making it more difficult to provide medical care to a population already suffering greatly from the aftermath of the war. Has been going on for many years, 12 years.
At the same time, from the outside, we can already discern different camps of players who are preparing to base their aid levels on calculations of a more geopolitical or geoeconomic nature than just humanitarian. This explains why only Russia, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates have announced aid shipments to Syria, while far fewer supplies and troops have reached there, fearing they will be affected by violence from various armed groups such as Hayat Tahrir Al Sham and others, who raise funds in areas they control and because of the lack of confidence generated by the regime itself. On the contrary, there are more shipments to Turkey, in an order that transcends humanitarian impulses and immediately discovers that countries like Finland or Sweden may be interested in lifting the blockade imposed by Ankara on their entry into Turkey. Turkey, NATO, or the United States and 27-nation NATO. Here, as on many other occasions, we are witnessing the instrumentalization of emergency aid, which also includes Ukraine itself, which has shown its willingness to send aid teams to Turkey which it intends to benefit, both by being able to get their grain through the Bospo Rouss Strait and the Dardanelles, so that they can no longer compromise with Moscow.
In any case, from the perspective of the affected people, all support is welcome if it ultimately helps to alleviate suffering.
Image: The collapsed ruins of the Galeria commercial center in Diyarbakir, Turkey. Photo: Mahmut Bozarslan (Voice of America) via Wikimedia Commons.