By Ece Koc
David Aaron, who served as Deputy National Security Advisor for Jimmy Carter was a guest on Building Bridges show of A9 TV of Turkey and offered his views on many subjects from the Iran issue to the ways to cope radicalism and how to educate people on true Islam.
The show saw lots of interesting dialogue on what’s going on in the Middle East and the threat of radicalism. After a lengthy talk on the threats and damages of radicalism, Aaron said that he could see the Western world getting over the Islamophobia but to do that they needed to educate their people:
“Well, I would say the first problem is education, and I think you all are attacking that problem properly, including the Bridge project. I think that’s incredibly important; to change people’s minds and have them understand the true elements of the Qur’an.”
This was particularly important coming from an important diplomat that is a senior fellow at the high profile organization RAND. As a non-profit think tank organization, RAND is funded mostly by the US government.
Aaron also said that he thought Turkey as an important player in the Middle East that could shape the region with its Islamic and democratic nature, setting an example to other Islamic countries. “I think that Turkey already does play an important role as an example of a country that can have a government which comes from an Islamist background but which has maintained its democratic character, and I think that Turkey can also help spread that concept should it so choose.”
Aaron said that although initially he thought it was a good idea for Turkey to join EU, he now thinks differently: “Indeed, I’ve always been in favor of Turkey’s entrance into the European Union precisely because it would be a bridge to the Middle East and the Islamic world. Of course, at that moment, you might not want to join the EU because I’d say you’re better of by yourself.”
On Syria and Iran
On Turkey’s ongoing support for some 160.000 Syrian refugees within its borders, Aaron commended Turkey and said that Turkey could lead the way to others in the region with the protection and shelter it offers to the people in need: “I think it’s also extremely important that you have a terrible situation going on your southern border with Syria and I think you’ve been taking a leadership role in dealing with that.”
Aaron also made it clear that he thinks Turkey could play a vital role in dealing with the problem with Iran as Iranians might not truly understand the concerns of other countries about their nuclear program and this could further reinforce Turkey’s role as a leader.
On an Islamic Union
After the hosts said how they wished to see a peaceful Islamic Union that would bring peace to the whole world, that would unite the Muslim countries under the lead of a single peaceful leader, quieting and neutralizing all radical elements, Aaron seemed very keen of the idea but told to be wary of the obstacles that might lie in the way: “Turkey has to be careful in the exercise of its influence because there’s a history here of relations with the Arab world and I think that they recognize that. I think it was very important that Turkey had something of a reconciliation with Saudi Arabia. Having unity and ending disputes among the Muslim states is a terrific idea, and I only wish you the best in bringing it about.”
Aaron said that US support for Israel might be angering Muslims, and hoped that Turkish-Israeli relationships will get back on track as soon as possible, because that might be the only way to solve the Arab-Israeli issue:
Israel and one can’t divorce our support of Israel from the negative reactions of the Arab world, or even the Muslims world, or even beyond that. And so our responsibility is to try and win some peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis; unfortunately, I would say, neither side seems ready yet to sit down and talk constructively. There’s a difference of opinion about that; some would say that the Palestinians aren’t ready, some say the Israelis aren’t ready, others think that both views are right, but I would say that our commitment to Israel’s existence and security is very strong and the one thing I’m sad about is that the relationship with Turkey has broken down, between Israel and Turkey, so I hope that that gets repaired at some point because I think it’s a very important relationship that actually could bring about a resolution to the Arab-Israeli issue.