A three-pronged plan for the aftermath of the earthquake

A three-pronged plan for the aftermath of the earthquake

Mehmet Yuva, head of the Türkiye-Syria Friendship Movement, is in the region hit by the earthquake to help people in need. He shared his observations and views with us during his heavy schedule in these difficult times. We thank him wholeheartedly.

Yuva proposes a three-pronged road map for the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Syria and Türkiye at the same time.

I am currently in the coastal area of Iskenderun, 100 meters away from Iskenderun Bay. In the bay there are military ships available to carry civilians and according to the latest news mobile hospitals.

Iskenderun is one of the most important bays of both Türkiye and West Asia. Unfortunately, this bay is currently struggling with the earthquake disaster.

This earthquake, which was centered in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaraş, also hit the Syrian cities of Latakia, which is only 100 kilometers from my location and Jabre and Manyas that are 180 kilometers away from here.

1. The importance of opening the Syria-Türkiye border crossings

This earthquake presents a very important opportunity too. Hatay’s Yayladağı border crossing, which connects Türkiye and Syria is very close to here. Turkish soldiers, civilian personnel, aid organizations and trucks coming to Hatay can help Syrian cities hit by the earthquake. This aid can be delivered to the region Kessab, where our Syrian Armenian brothers and sisters live in large numbers, al Kastal just south of Kessab, where our Syrian Turkmen brothers and sisters live in large numbers. And the historical city Latakia, just south of al Kastal – has a very similar social structure to Hatay with its Alawite, Turkish, Kurdish, Arab and Armenian population, as the city of Ceple. In this case, the solidarity between two nations and two states will be strengthened. We will have won the hearts of our Syrian brothers and sisters, the hearts we had broken for one reason or another. This is a historical opportunity.

In May 2013, this custom gate was closed by the then foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s personal decision without the approval of the council of ministers. The current foreign minister Mr. Çavuşoğlu could reopen it with a written declaration. We demand it again and again from Mr. Çavuşoğlu: Yayladağı border crossing should be opened urgently without facing any bureaucratic obstacles.

2. Breaking the US humanitarian aid barrier to Syria

The US announced “no aid to the dictator” regarding the earthquake in Syria. In addition, they have taken and are taking steps to block aid to Syria.

First of all we need to state that this attitude is another disgrace for the US history. But this despicable action of these creatures masquerading as human beings was overturned by the pressure of the international community and the United Nations -and by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait that immediately sent aid convoys.

The US says that humanitarian aid can be delivered to Syria for 180 days, that is, until August, but that these humanitarian aid packages should not include medicines, that this should be reported in advance, and that only aid packages approved by the US can be delivered. In short, the US claims to ‘allow’ aid only from whom and in ways it approves. This is exactly what ‘pretending to help’ means. Moreover the US is only doing, but also pressuring other countries to comply with it.

The meeting between the defense ministers of Syria-Türkiye-Russia in Moscow -Iran would be joining this trio- that the UAE and Saudi Arabia will also be contributing to this process, comprised a basis for the humanitarian cooperation between these countries during the earthquake disaster.

3. Unity in the face of provocations

We will always stand by our state, military and personnel.

We will not esteem the provocations launched on social media about Hatay starting from the first hour of the earthquake. There are reports that Syrians and Turks are in a state of conflict and that Syrians have occupied Turkish Alawite neighborhoods. These are completely fake news. When there is any plunder attempt or an attack on an aid convoy, our military and police intervene immediately.

The people of Hatay with all its components -Sunnis, Alawites, Christians, Jews, Kurds, Arabs, Armenians, Turks- have demonstrated the best examples of unity and solidarity under the leadership of their leaders from the very first moment. They stood by their government, soldiers and personnel and provided great moral support.

This is not only a matter of an earthquake. It is a day to be one heart, not to give any opportunity to the international powers and their regional subcontractors who will try to instrumentalize the earthquake for their purposes.

Şafak Erdem

Şafak Erdem was born in Istanbul in 1993. He completed primary and secondary school in Istanbul, then studied philosophy and sociology as an undergraduate at Boğaziçi University. He is currently doing a master's degree in philosophy.

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March 2023