The Eden of the Middle East

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became angry because the main opposition leader had called the Middle East a quagmire. “That’s insulting,” the prime minister said. Before a court bans using the words “Middle East” and “quagmire” in the same sentence, this columnist volunteers to call the peaceful, wealthy, healthy and happy region as “the Eden of the Middle East.”

In Eden, however, Turkish diplomatic missions, once opened with a Kodak-moment, half-baked ceremonies, seem to be deserted: Cairo, Tel Aviv, Damascus, Mosul, Basra, and Baghdad pending. But the usual Turkish euphemism beats even Turkish standards.

The deputy foreign minister in Ankara said the 49 diplomatic personnel, including the consul-general in Mosul, and their families held hostage by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) “were not actually being held hostage,” but “were merely interned.”

A better wording could have been to say that they “were being hosted by fine gentlemen,” or “were partying together with their good Muslim friends.” The truth, however, puts that if an armed group raids a diplomatic mission and removes its personnel at gunpoint to an unknown location with the aim of negotiations to “win favor(s)” from the country of origin, it is an act of hostage-taking, no matter what the officials from the country of origin may call it. The unlucky Turks did not vacate the consulate to attend a backgammon tournament against ISIL’s backgammon heavyweights. Interned? Mind you, we are talking about an organization that was deemed “too extreme” even for al-Qaeda, which renounced it.

Iraq, theoretically, was liberated 11 years ago...

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