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Chatting with my Chinese friend (14): No paradise on earth, but hell not hard to find

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

12-22-2015 19:06 BJT

By H Karoui

My friend Yu was anxious. His sister is maybe buying an art shop in Dubai. Seeing the headlines coming out of the Middle East, Yu was trying to discourage her. When I suggested he was over-reacting, he replied to me on WeChat:

 

— You don't know the whole story. But before I get into it all, promise me one thing. Tell me what you think clearly, and please, don't beat around the bush. 

You might feel that I beat around the bush because sometimes when you ask me a question I do not always give a direct answer. I understand your anxiety, but as I told you once before, when it comes to discussing the Middle East, you need patience. Now please tell me: What is it you need to understand so clearly?

— The shop my sister wants to buy is not actually in Dubai, but Istanbul.

That's great! Istanbul is a major city. What makes you nervous?

— I'm not. Just a bit anxious. First of all she doesn't understand a word of Arabic. How's she going to deal with her clients? In Mandarin?

— She doesn't need Arabic in Turkey. Turks speak Turkish. But as she doesn't speak Turkish either, she just needs to speak English. She won't have any problem as her English is good enough. So that's your first point dealt with. Next?

— OK, you're right. Turks aren't Arabs. But all the same, is the country safe? Personally I don't understand their foreign policy. In late July Turkish President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan was in Beijing. He reiterated Turkey's opposition to terrorism. But after Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane, President [Vladimir] Putin claimed he had evidence the Turkish government bought oil from ISIS and that the decision to down the plane was guided by a desire to maintain secure oil delivery routes to container ports. Turkey not only downed a Russian plane, but then dispatched troops into northern Iraq, rejecting official Iraqi demands to pull them out. Putin was so angry that during a press conference a week ago he reminded the world, and Turkey in particular, that not only is Russia a nuclear power, but that the Kremlin has nuclear missiles aboard a submarine stationed just off the Turkish coast. So I wonder: Is Turkey still a safe place for people like my sister who wants to do business? I heard that on Sunday a Russian warship fired warning shots at a Turkish fishing vessel in the Aegean Sea seemingly to avoid a collision! What are they doing? The next incident could mean all-out war! I don't want my sister or her business getting caught up in a war zone.

— I see what you mean, although honestly I think the Russians and Turks have an obvious interest in avoiding further tensions. I would advise your sister not to rushing into anything. There are so many business options in this world. The Middle East, unfortunately, is changing fast, and perhaps not, I fear, for the better. Turkey was once trumpeting "zero conflict" as a pillar of its foreign policy. Now more recently they have a sudden taste for warmongering. That's not to condone Russian behavior in Syria either, where they stand by Assad whatever the consequences. That's not very rational. It seems to me that foreign powers have turned the whole country into a hell on earth. The problem is the same in Yemen, Libya, Iraq etc. There is no paradise anywhere on earth, but now we know for sure there is a hell. You can even see some Gulf states, instead of minding their own business and developing their own societies, have begun sticking their noses into other people’s business. That’s provoking a backlash against them. Why did they get involved in conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Iraq etc? Did they really need to send troops to Yemen or pay warriors in Syria or Libya? Did they really need to support a military coup in Egypt with billions of dollars they actually need themselves as oil prices continue plunging?

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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