If most folk were asked to name a list of the world’s most influential statesmen, Recep Erdogan’s would hardly trip off the tongue.
Yet, as boss of the religiously orthodox AK Justice & Development Party and Turkish Prime Minister for nine years, he heads one of the world’s few, fully-fledged Islamic democracies (and a NATO member), so his is a siren voice worth listening to every once in a while.
Erdogan’s had his moments of controversy, notably refusing to fess up to Turkey’s genocide of a million Armenians in 1915. And his backing of the misnamed ‘Peace Flotillas’, crewed by the usual, useful idiots – which tried to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza, in situ to stop Iranian munitions reaching the Hamas terrorist-run enclave – went down like a manky kebab with most of his Western friends.
Nonetheless, following Turkey’s long experience of Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, Erdogan knows much about how and why the region has disintegrated into the powder keg it is today and he can read the ominous runes better than most.
Which is why he recently gave the imperiously inept United Nations – especially the blustering, disjointed Security Council – a piece of his mind, singling out Syria in particular and charging, ‘The UN is losing its credibility by turning a blind eye to what is happening [there]. It is a human tragedy.’
With countless refuges escaping the loathsome Assad regime to camps over the Turkish border and Syrian artillery firing into Turkey – five Turks died and 11 were injured in a recent fusillade – Erdogan is articulating what the West has thought of the discredited UN for decades, but has been too timid to say so.
Meanwhile, he’s ordered his army to retaliate, if further provoked, amid fears the Assads, prompted by the Armageddon-seekers of neighbouring Iran, could escalate the conflict into an all-out, Shiite-versus-Sunni clash – not dissimilar to how ‘a little local difficulty’ in the Balkans, in 1914, ignited the Great War.
Syria, though, is only the tip of an explosive sand-dune and there’s no doubt Erdogan has an agenda to reprise Ottoman-style hegemony over the Middle East.
But he’s right in fingering UN culpability – and the botched peace mission of ex-UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to Damascus – in allowing the inter-religious civil war, said to have cost tens of thousands of lives to date, to rage on.
In reality, the UN General Assembly has become a soapbox for fully paid-up members of the nutters’ club, like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
And the Security Council couldn’t sort out a scrap in a kindergarten schoolyard, while Putin’s Russia supports the indefensible Assads and amoral China couldn’t care a toss, so long as it can continue selling arms to anyone who pays.
Meanwhile, in the odd moments the UN does secure a flimsy degree of unanimity, its ineffectual, ‘Blue Helmet’ peacekeepers too often turn a mess into a downright catastrophe.
Witness the cock-ups they contrived in the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities, the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, not forgetting their abject failure to police the Second Congo War or intervene in the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre.
Failure, in fact, seems to be what the UN excels at when it sends in its bovver boys. Because, among other malfunctions, they failed to deliver food to the starving in strife-torn Somalia and prevent mass murder in Darfur.
And the peacekeepers haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory in other ways, having been accused of corruption, black-marketeering, drug-running and multiple sex crimes during missions to the Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Sudan, what’s now South Sudan, Burundi and Cote d’Ivoire.
Not that those at the very crest of the UN always set a shining example of probity.
Remember the 2005 probe into the Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal – said to have personally netted Saddam Hussein $1.7-billion in kickbacks – when holier-than-thou Secretary General Annan was rebuked over suspicions he steered lucrative contracts to a Swiss company that coincidentally employed his son, Kojo.
As counterpoints, the UN has sired some outstanding agencies under its umbrella, notably the World Health Organisation (WHO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Educational Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the International Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Shamefully, the same can’t be said of the High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Hijacked by West-bashers and harboring a vicious obsession against democratic Israel, it was once chaired by Gaddafi-ruled Libya and even founded a ‘human rights prize’ named in honour of the late, unlamented, homicidal maniac (how daft can the UN get, I hear you ask).
So Erdogan’s accusation that the organisation charged with bolstering world piece ‘is losing its credibility’ is somewhat passé. Because it already has.
Now comprising an unwieldy 193 nations, many with historic animus toward one another, maybe it’s high time the UN reminded itself of its original charter commitments – especially the wee bit which states, ‘Human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear.’
Because if members refuse to adhere to those noble principles, they shouldn’t be in the club in the first place – or the United Nations is a misnomer and not fit for purpose.
Take your pick, as 60s TV quizmaster Michael Miles would say.