When the uprising in Egypt took place, I remember thinking how hypocritical it was that Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan was among the strongest voices demanding from Mubarak to step down. It was hypocritical since in the recent past Erdoğan has surrounded himself with so many autocratic and anti-democratic leaders such as Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Mahmud Ahmadinejad of Iran. As Foreign Minister Davutoglu’s zero-problem with neighbors plan was so carefully implemented, no one in the AKP thought for a second about warming up with these leaders. One example of this was almost two years ago, when Iranian forces violently stomped out the opposition and apparently rigged the election ballots, Turkey sat quietly on the side, opting to “mind its own business” and stay out of Iran’s internal politics.
Let’s face it, Erdoğan was simply staunchly anti-Mubarak due to the fact that the former Egyptian president had strong ties with the “pro-Israeli” camp in the Middle East: Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and Saudi Arabia; in other words, Egypt, in terms of geo-political terms was Turkey’s main competitor, challenging their hegemonic onslaught into Middle East affairs.
Well, with the uprising in Libya, Erdoğan’s integrity has been tested. In November 2010, the Turkish leader who portrays himself as on the “side” of the people received the Gaddafi International Human Rights Prize, walking away with a large monetary prize of up to $250,000. Yes, you heard right. Among many shenanigans of the soon to be past dictator of Libya was the founding of a human rights prize in his name! Erdoğan in fact can claim that he shares this honor with Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, among others. Also, he can be proud that he won this prize due to his endless commitment to the Palestinian cause. And, now he will also be the last recipient.
Yes, like so many of the Middle East tyrants, Qaddafi’s regime and crimes have been hidden behind a façade as if he was really interested in the Palestinian cause. During the last few decades, numerous Arab leaders publicly championed the Palestinian cause allowing them a great deal of regional and world support when in essence this only blurred the crimes taking place in their countries; the former Saddam Hussein, and the Assads of Syria top the list, right alongside of Qaddafi.
This leads us back to the prize. Prime Minister Erdoğan, if you really are serious about being on the side of the people, and you really support the Palestinian cause, then there is only one thing to do: return the reward to Qaddafi, and return the money to the Libyan people from whom he stole it. Also, while even the Libyan diplomats have backed sanctions against Qaddafi’s regime, along with China, and every country on the Security Council, also show some leadership, support the sanctions or offer something more effective; and at least call for Qaddafi’s resignation in the same strong voice as you did with Mubarak.
For a look at an article in English about the discussion in Turkey click here