Turkey sends aid to dis­as­ter vic­tims


ANKARA: Turkey has pro­vided hu­man­i­tar­ian aid fol­low­ing a 7.3-mag­ni­tude earth­quake on Sun­day in neigh­bor­ing north­ern Iraq and Iran that killed more than 350 peo­ple and in­jured some 6,000.

Turk­ish aid agen­cies, in­clud­ing the Red Cres­cent and the state-run Dis­as­ter and Emer­gency Man­age­ment Author­ity (AFAD), rushed to of­fer their as­sis­tance and co­op­er­ate in search-an­dres­cue ef­forts.

The Turk­ish Red Cres­cent im­me­di­ately sent some 3,000 tents, 10,000 blan­kets, 10,000 beds and 3,000 heaters, in co­op­er­a­tion with its coun­ter­parts in Iraq and Iran. AFAD dis­patched 5,000 tents, 7,000 blan­kets, 92 per­son­nel and 11 ve­hi­cles. A do­na­tion cam­paign has also been ini­ti­ated in Turkey by send­ing an SMS mes­sage to 2868.

“This is the day to pull up who has fallen and demon­strate hu­man­ity,” tweeted Kerem Kinik, pres­i­dent of the Turk­ish Red Cres­cent.

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan of­fered con­do­lences to the vic­tims of the earth­quake.

Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim and For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu pointed to Turk­ish as­sis­tance to the “broth­erly vic­tims of the quake.”

On his Twit­ter ac­count, Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG) spokesman Safeen Diza­yee thanked Turkey for its “quick re­sponse and sup­port.”

KRG Prime Min­is­ter Nechir­van Barzani praised Turkey and Er­do­gan for con­tact­ing the KRG im­me­di­ately af­ter the quake.

This ur­gent hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance comes de­spite Ankara hav­ing ramped up its crit­i­cism of the KRG and threats against it af­ter Septem­ber’s in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum.

Pi­nar Akpinar, a scholar at the Con­flict Res­o­lu­tion and Me­di­a­tion Stream of the Istanbul Pol­icy Cen­ter, said Turkey’s aid ini­tia­tive is part of its pol­icy of hu­man­i­tar­ian diplo­macy.

“The earth­quake can be an op­por­tu­nity for Turkey and these coun­tries (Iraq and Iran) to rec­on­cile and find com­mon ground,” Akpinar told Arab News.

“It’s also a re­minder that they’re neigh­bors, and will al­ways need one an­other in times of cri­sis. As such, chan­nels of co­op­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion should be kept open at all times.”

Sit­u­ated on a num­ber of ac­tive fault lines, Turkey has sig­nif­i­cant ex­pe­ri­ence in con­duct­ing searc­hand-res­cue op­er­a­tions im­me­di­ately af­ter earth­quakes.

Ali Semin, a Mid­dle East ex­pert at Istanbul-based think tank Bilge­sam, said the cur­rent as­sis­tance comes at a very frag­ile time in terms of po­lit­i­cal re­la­tions, but it is a con­crete ex­am­ple of im­ple­ment­ing soft power and hu­man­i­tar­ian diplo­macy.

“Turkey has no prob­lem with the Kurds, and Ankara doesn’t want to pun­ish Kur­dish peo­ple in north­ern Iraq. Our prob­lem is with the KRG politi­cians,” Semin told Arab News.

“I think Turkey will con­tinue pro­vid­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance to wounded quake vic­tims by of­fer­ing to treat them in Turk­ish hos­pi­tals. Neigh­bors need each other all the time.”

Barin Kayaoglu, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of world his­tory at the Amer­i­can Univer­sity of Iraq in Su­lay­maniyah, told Arab News: “Let us hope the quake be­comes a cat­a­lyst for mend­ing ties be­tween the two neigh­bors af­ter the re­cent cri­sis.”

Kayaoglu said two mas­sive earth­quakes in 1999 in Greece and Turkey led to im­proved bi­lat­eral re­la­tions af­ter each coun­try sent res­cue teams to help the other.

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