By Halil Celik
ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria must have stirred up a hornet's nest, as besides changing the region’s balance of power, it has also unmasked international and regional actors one by one.
Turkey’s NATO allies, its strategic partners and countries cooperating with terrorist organizations against Turkey had already been expected to adopt a tough stance. But it was an example of black humor that the Arab League, including Egypt and Bahrain orbiting Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates, condemned the operation in a bombardment of 24-hour live broadcasts and through visual and print media, headlines and commentary.
The Arab League's latest statement calling the operation an “occupation” is not taken seriously even by its member states. As it is known that the League lacks an implementation mechanism, some members have either not signed the declaration or have indicated that they do not agree with the decision through their foreign ministries.
It can only be described as a comedy that the Arab League, which remained silent when Arab countries were turned into “destruction museums” by the U.S., Russia and Iran, only talked about the sovereignty of Syria being trampled by the armies of four countries – the U.S., France, Russia and Iran.
Moreover, while the Arab population in northern Syria is being displaced by the YPG/PKK terrorist organization and the northern region is called "Rojava," there is no moral aspect in the Arab regimes and media lamenting over the terrorist organization.
The league has never been seen convening immediately against Iran, which now controls the four Arab capitals of Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana. Israel violated Syria’s sovereignty nearly every day and hit positions it deemed important, but these regimes have not objected at all. The most important supporter of the Bashar al-Assad regime, which slaughtered children, women and the elderly, is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was welcomed in Saudi Arabia and signed important agreements.
Those who follow the statements, visual and print media of Saudi Arabia regarding Operation Peace Spring may think that Turkey embattled Saudi Arabia, bombarded its oil facilities such as state oil company Aramco’s and supported arms sales to the Iran-backed Houthis the Saudis fight in Yemen. Even after the latest Aramco attack, the Saudi administration and media did not react to such a degree. But their reaction to Operation Peace Spring has overshadowed that of the Assad regime.
The Saudi-financed Al Arabiya channel and Okaz newspaper, which are spearheading the smear campaign against Turkey, and all the other visual and print media act almost like broadcasting outlets for the PKK terrorist organization while trying to distort the target of the operation by means of disinformation. In particular, a reporter for Al Arabiya played the leading role in a cheap production where — unable to find any dead or injured civilians — she staged a scene by laying two children in the middle of a street where Turkey was conducting the operation.
Saudi authorities shared shocking posts on their personal social media accounts regarding Turkey and the operation, while fake accounts also took part in the disinformation.
Okaz outlined the thesis that “the world is against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan” and acted like a broadcasting outlet of the PKK/PYD terrorist organization. The newspaper tried to deceive its readers by creating the perception based on a lie that a Daesh prison in Syria was hit and the militants were released.
The Riyadh Al Jazeera and Al Vatan newspapers, as well as newspapers like Sarkulevsat, Al Hayat and Al Arab reported false news and comments about the operation.
Saudi media, which has interviewed members of the FETO terrorist organization, the group behind the 2016 defeated coup attempt in Turkey, and ignored attacks carried out by the PKK/YPG terrorist organization on Turkish border cities and civilian areas, mentioned unanimously how the families of Daesh members escaped and 130,000 civilians abandoned their homes. In fact, U.S. President Donald Trump denied such allegations on Twitter, saying YPG/PKK terrorists may be releasing some Daesh members.
Okaz correspondent Ahmed Awad became worthless by asserting that the Turkish Army fought against Salahuddin Ayyubi’s grandchildren, while Al Jazeera correspondent Muhammad Al ash-Sheikh claimed that Qatar became Turkish-like by supporting the operation.
Okaz correspondent Faheem Al-Hamid has stated that his country's Syria policy has never changed and Saudi Arabia acts within the framework of international law. However, it is not necessary to be a political expert to say that the current policies of the Saudi authorities are diametrically opposed to those in March 2011, when Syria’s civil war began.
Up until three years ago, then Saudi Foreign Minister Adil Al Jubeir stated that Saudi warplanes stood by Turkey to fight against Daesh in Syria and announced that Saudi Arabia supports Turkey’s efforts in this direction. However, the UAE and the putschist Egyptian administration were already in a secret alliance with the Assad regime.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt carried out bloody military operations in many Arab countries, which they described as “brothers.” The Riyadh-Abu Dhabi duo committed crimes against humanity in Yemen. Likewise, they provide military and logistical support along with Egypt to putschist General Khalifa Haftar against Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord.
The Riyadh administration, remembering Syria's sovereignty today and that it is an Arab country, has done nothing since events began in March 2011, ignoring the cruelty and massacres of the Assad regime. On the contrary, it supported the PKK/PYD financially and logistically in the name of “fighting against Daesh,” betraying the Arabs living in those regions. On top of that, it ordered articles about and interviews with PKK ringleaders as if they were statesmen.
Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan visited Syria’s Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor governorates in 2017 and 2019 and held talks with terrorist ringleaders, promising them support.
Millions of Syrian Arabs were actually left to the mercy of PYD terrorists, and it was a threat not only to Turkey but to all of Syria.
But why does Saudi Arabia engage in backlash against Turkey's operation despite knowing that Syria was turned into a “visitor’s hub” for international forces and that the county’s Arab identity is being targeted? It is obvious that relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia are tense and the two countries are on the verge of cutting relations. Saudi authorities and the country’s media pursue every opportunity against Turkey, increasing the dose of hostility in addition to the contradictory policies during the coup in Egypt in 2013, blockade of Qatar in 2017 and brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
The smear campaign and disinformation against the operation can be interpreted as the Saudi administration’s attempt to weaken Turkey on a political, economic and military basis.