Time to challenge a dictator

When Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, head of the militant group Islamic State, ranted and raved, the world vowed to stop the mad man’s rhetoric in its tracks. When the Islamic State leveled the monuments of Palmyra and Nimrod, the world wailed and bemoaned the loss of such priceless treasures. When jihadis ruthlessly and sadistically attacked civilians in Syria and Iraq, the leaders of the world demanded action to stop the madness.

That was Syria during the days of the so-called Caliphate. Today, however, there is a deafening silence when it comes to what is happening in Syria. Now that Islamic State is all but annihilated, the world’s attention seems to have moved elsewhere. This is indeed heart-wrenching, as the crimes committed by Islamic State are now being repeated in northern Syria. And what adds insult to injury is the fact that the perpetrator of this brutal campaign is a state that many nations once viewed as being an ally.

The Turkish army has been waging a ceaseless campaign of brutality against the Kurds of northern Syria. Day in and day out, missiles are falling on civilian centers in the Syrian region of Afrin. While this happens in Syria, Turkish President Erdogan continues to spew his bile and venom against the Kurdish people and jails any Turkish citizen brave enough to stand up against his propaganda. In addition to the human carnage, this campaign is also damaging what remains of Syria’s once-flourishing archaeological heritage. The site of Ain Dara, which contains a 3,000-year-old Hittite temple, was damaged by the Turkish military a few days ago. And while all this chaos is taking place, the world has remained sickeningly silent.

A few years ago, the leaders of the world demanded that the barbarity of Islamic State be ended. The world was tired of seeing bodies and destruction on their television sets. And yet no one utters a word today when these scenes are being repeated. It is time for this hypocrisy to end. This is not a call for the Erdogan regime to be attacked, but it is a cry for some sort of balance when it comes to international outrage and global action. In a day and age where the slightest of acts committed by Israel provoked countless U.N. meetings and resolutions, it is shameful that world leaders and global bodies remain silent in the face of the crimes being committed by the Turkish army. Erdogan has been acting recklessly and cruelly for years now, and he will not stop until the global community acts to counter his moves. We must do so and do so soon, otherwise this border conflict may spill over and wreak havoc on an already devastated region.

HAROLD OHAYON
OSAKA

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.