Turkey’s support to Rohingyas: A foreign policy “gamble”? – II

turkeys support Rohingyas

Turkey to the rescue

Before extensively reviewing Turkey’s support to Rohingyas, it is imperative for policy makers to understand Turkey’s foreign policy. In the light of some “blunders” in its foreign policy, the AKP remains to be popular among the Turkish masses, receiving massive “diplomatic” support even from some power nations. Today, in the light of recent incidents including an unsuccessful coup d’état, the ruling party AKP has its major concentration on votes.

Introduction to Turkish foreign policy

The Turkish foreign policy relies heavily on three basic pillars.

First, Turkey will be going to act as a “neutral negotiator” in the region, along with an active mediator with its neighbouring countries and the West.

Second, the AKP will remain emphasis on the Muslim etiquettes and it will be seen as the rise of “real” Turkish deep-rooted identity.

Third, Turkey will be able to retain and further enhance the democratic principles. This has been one of the key principles of Turkish foreign relations with West, especially its relations with the European Union. After the rise of AKP to power, it has always expressed support, solidarity to all minority Muslims, voicing their issues at the global level. This can be seen from Turkish support to Muslims of Arakan and Palestine

Turkish support to Muslim Rohingyas

The Buddhist atrocities committed against the Rohingyas in the Rakhine state in the middle of 2012, not only shook the entire world, but resurfaced the discussion of “atrocities committed against Rohingyas” at the international arena. The Turkish Primer Recep Tayyip Erdogan aggressively pursued this discussion even during the “breakfast hour” at the then Ambassadors meet. During the Ambassadors summit, the incumbent Primer urged the UN to take aggressive measures in this issue while urging the global community to take swift effective measures in this issue. Before the Rohingya incidence, Turkey expressed concerns towards excessive violence induced on Muslim minorities, before dispatching aid packages to Somalia. The Primer, on the same accounts, initiated a series of relief packages for Rohingya Muslims.

The aid packages were dispatched by the Premiers’ Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (also known as AFAD). Moreover, the Primer also announced opening of special bank accounts in an effort to provide Rohingyas Muslims with compensation. Throughout the foreign aid collection process, the AFAD was able to raise over 3.4 million Rohingyas Muslims.

Furthermore, as already mentioned, Turkey became the first country to nominate its Minister of Foreign Affairs along with the Primer’s wife and daughter to visit the most violently affected parts of Myanmar. Policy makers must note that, the Turkish delegation not only reviewed the regions with intense violence but also distributed food and medical packages along their way. The Primer did not limit his assistance to Rohingyas stranded in Myanmar; The Turkish government also provided medical and other aid packages to the Muslim Rohingyas stranded on the borders of Bangladesh and other nations. Turkish government in partnership with UNICEF donated over 1.82 million US Dollar to the Rohingya Muslims displaced internally.

Aggressive diplomatic initiatives in play

The Turkish government has initiated numerous diplomatic programs in an effort to prevent any violence induced on the Rohingyas in Myanmar. Turkey was the principle actor behind the establishment of Myanmar Contact Group on Rohingya under the guidance and supervision of the Organization of Islamic Council. This group had several objectives to achieve; the group would actively hold series of discussions between the Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas, the group will further provide aid supplies to the people of Rakhine state irrespective of their ethnicity, race or religion, while working towards restoring citizenship to all Rohingyas living in the state. The member countries of the groups are Malaysia, Indonesia, besides Turkey, Egypt, Djibouti, and Saudi Arabia. Inspite being at the epicentre of the conflict, Bangladesh, under the current regime of pro-secular Awami League, Dhaka is reluctant to take sides with Rohingyas, making Bangladesh out of the group besides its importance. For this reason, Bangladesh is not a member of the group. The government of Turkey is reinforcing its “extensive” with the secular Awami League at Dhaka in an effort smoothen the participation of Turkish Red Crescent, TİKA besides other Turkish humanitarian aid agencies and continue delivering food and medical supplies to stranded and unrecognised Rohingyas at the refugee camps against the Dhaka’s will.

Besides this, the Ankara also urged the OIC to participate actively in de-accelerating the crisis while participating actively in dialogue and discussion processes. Policy makers must note that, the issue of Rohingyas is not adequately voiced and deliberated at the international arena. Hence, one nation’s pressure on international community would not be successful without active participation from the international communities. The violence induced against the Rohingyas erupted as a domestic issue, which international communities can effectively resolve by inviting Myanmar, the principle actor in the issue on the table to further deliberate and deescalate the issue. Failure from the Burmese Junta has fuelled the issue. Furthermore, the government aggressive propagation of anti-Muslim sentiments while establishing stringent laws dedicated against Muslim communities, points towards a systematic expulsion of a state against a community.

In reference to the aforementioned argument, the OIC should call Myanmar at the discussion forum to discuss and deliberate on the fate of Rohingyas while calling a temporary truce with the Rohingya’s Muslim communities to fuel any further acts of violence and destruction of Rohingya Muslim properties in the country. Furthermore, Myanmar should end “violence of all forms” against the Muslim and those communities sympathetic to the cause of Rohingya Muslims while “dismantling the wedge” formed between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in and around the Rakhine State.


Today, many historians, foreign policy experts and humanitarian assistance specialists, on the basis of extensive conversations with Rohingya Muslims, their reports, experiences, their history along with the available public information, have agreed on the presence of Rohingya Muslims ethnic minorities at the Arakan, long before the kingdom was established. Before military takeover, Rohingyas had significance take presence and influence in the government. This situation, however, took a sudden twist after the 2012 communal riots. Furthermore, policy makers must understand that, international communities, organizations such as ASEAN, have repeatedly failed to adequately and effectively address the issue of systematic expulsion and exclusion of Muslim Rohingya’s in Myanmar. This is, in particular indifferent to ASEAN’s vision, motto and objective, especially when its mission highlights the importance of “one identity and one community” and its failure to express sheer support and determination to resolve an issue “within its jurisdiction”.

In keeping aforementioned arguments, the AKP government at Ankara has proved to be a vital support to the “stateless” Muslim Rohingyas of Myanmar. This highlights the determination of the government plus its dedication in resolving an issue that continues to effect global dynamics of today. Turkey become the second only to the UN in its continuous efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the Muslim Rohingyas. Moreover, policy makers must note that, this was all possible because of a dedicated foreign policy of the AKP government and Ankara’s commitment to bring end to a conflict involving minority Muslims, oppressed by the hands of the state. Thus, Turkey has become a principle support for Muslim Rohingyas, a foundation that has been laid on immense dedication and commitment towards a peaceful resolution. In the light of active Turkish diplomacy, Dhaka too, inspite of being reluctant, had to allow Turkish humanitarian agencies within its jurisdiction. Furthermore, not only did the Organization of Islamic Group established a Rohingya Contact Group in Myanmar but also its immediate supervision is possible because of Turkish active, aggressive, formidable diplomacy. Besides, many Turkish humanitarian aid workers are deployed on the Bangladesh border, assisting the Rohingya refugees in an effort to make their lives “less challenging” and keeping their “hopes and dreams” intact.