Erdoğan's "doublespeak" can't hide war's health impact - columnist

Turkey’s invasion of the northwest Syrian region of Afrin is an operation that carries “grave risks of escalation” and should have been a last resort, wrote world affairs columnist Rashmee Roshan Lall for the Arab Weekly.

The attempts by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to pain Operation Olive Branch as a drive to promote regional peace are “the heights of doublespeak”, added Lall, referring to George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 and the euphemistic, self-contradictory language used by the book’s totalitarian state.

Lall’s column addressed a statement on Jan. 24 by the Turkish Doctor’s Union (TTB), which criticised the military operation against Kurdish groups in Afrin considered by Turkey as terrorists, and described war as a “man-made public health problem”.

The statement by the union, which represents roughly 80 percent of Turkey’s doctors, was greeted with fury by Erdoğan, who labelled the group as “terrorist lovers”. On Jan. 30, the TTB’s central committee was detained and charged with “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”.

For Lall, this reaction was evoked by the group’s refusal to go along with the nationalist propaganda that accompanied Operation Olive Branch.

“By refusing to hail the Afrin offensive as necessary bloodshed, as a just war to end all wars, the doctors have evoked disturbing images. They are forcing Turks to think of gore rather than national glory. By correctly describing war as a “man-made” problem rather than an inevitable consequence of the human condition, the medics have underlined the unfortunate reality of the Afrin incursion.”


Moreover, Olive Branch could have undesirable and destructive consequences for Turkey if its scope expands to nearby areas where U.S. troops are present, warned Lall.

The United States has been collaborating with the Kurdish groups that Turkey is fighting in Syria, the People’s Protection Units and its affiliate the Syrian Democratic Forces. U.S. forces are stationed in the region of Manbij, which Erdoğan has vowed to attack after Afrin.