Home Page - Gulf in the Media
HomePoliticsEconomy                               Set Gulfinthemedia.com as home page
Opinions
"Postings of opinions published in the Gulf and international newspapers
 Print  Send This Page
Save Listen to this Article
Turkey recalibrates its approach to Syria   

Gulf Times - 23 March, 2012
Author: Jon Hemming

Just over a year ago, Turkey's prime minister addressed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus as "my brother". Today, illusions of kinship are long gone and the region’s rising power finds itself marshalling efforts to press him from power, but increasingly wary of being pitched into military action.
The falling out between Assad and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan grew personal as well as diplomatic as Syria’s president ignored Turkish calls for restraint and pressed his attacks on protesters. Erdogan drew a comparison with Nazi Germany in some of the strongest words of any major leader on Syria.
In one e-mail, intercepted and published in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Assad’s wife Asma is asked if she would pass her e-mail address to Erdogan’s wife. “I use this account only for family and friends,” she replies. “It would be difficult for me at this stage to consider her in either category after the insults they have directed towards the president.”
The Syrian insurrection has tested the limits of Turkish regional diplomatic power that has grown markedly under Erdogan’s stewardship. For years Ankara invested heavily in relations with Syria and Assad, calculating closer ties could foster both trade and reforms in its southern neighbour, as well as weaken its reliance on Iran, for centuries Turkey’s main regional rival.
“They thought that because of the personal relationship that had developed between Erdogan and Bashar, the Syrians would be a pushover,” said Philip Robins of Oxford University.
“There was a complete misunderstanding based on an assumption that they had manoeuvred the other side so that they would do their bidding, and that absolutely was not the case.”
Syrian protests escalated from March last year. Assad failed to heed ever more insistent telephone calls from Erdogan and visits from Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu appealing for reform. By August, Ankara had had enough.
Having seen the rapid revolution in Egypt and with the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi seemingly imminent, Turkey sharply turned against its erstwhile ally in Damascus.
“They wanted to position themselves on the right side of history, expecting the Syrian regime to fall in weeks as in Tunisia and Egypt,” said Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.
Turkey now hosts Syria’s main opposition groups and shelters the rebel Free Syria Army on its side of the common frontier. On April 1, it will be the venue of a meeting of Western and Middle Eastern officials and groups involved with Syria.
Assad has shown himself to be impervious to verbal assault and resilient to increasingly violent protests and guerrilla attacks. He is also for now at least largely insulated from strong UN-backed action due to the vetoes of China and his backer Russia on the Security Council.
“Right now there is a disappointing situation for Ankara,” said Salem. “What they banked on didn’t happen. Their bluff and bluster was met by bluff and bluster from the Syrian side and now we are certainly in a bit of a stalemate.”
Without backing from the UN, or at least the Arab League and Nato, Turkey is unwilling to go it alone in Syria. But with a 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria, more than 16,000 Syrian refugees on its soil and hundreds more arriving each day, it is not a problem from which Ankara can simply walk away.
Turkey has signalled a huge flood of refugees or massacres on its door-step would be red lines that would force it to act, but short of military intervention, there are few effective options available, analysts said.
Erdogan said last week setting up a “safe” or “buffer zone” along the border was one of the options under consideration, but that would mean troops going into Syria to seize and secure territory which the rebel Free Syrian Army has failed to do.
“We need to consider maybe to have a buffer zone inside Syrian territory, but without Syrian consent this may lead to some kind of military conflict ... and this may escalate the situation,” said Kamer Kasim of the International Strategic Research Organisation (USAK), Turkish think-tank.
Like it or not, Turkey finds itself centre stage of diplomatic efforts to dislodge Assad, and would be on the front line of any military intervention, whether an Arab peace force or arming the Free Syrian Army, both measures the Arab League could discuss when it holds a summit in Baghdad next week.
But there are very good reasons why Turkey should be wary of intervening in Syria, given its strategic backing by Turkey’s neighbour and regional power Iran, and the closeness to Iran of Ankara’s other Middle Eastern neighbour, Iraq.
“Turkey has got itself into a position where it has a major foreign policy issue with its three Middle Eastern neighbours,” said Robins. “This is really not clever, especially in a part of the world where power politics is still the name of the game.”
“If it were just Turkey versus Syria then the Turks if they were minded to could probably just pile in,” he said. “But when you factor in the presence of other regional powers ... and you also have Israel which is getting closer to Cyprus and Greece, and then of course you have the Russians to the north who are supporting Syria, it suddenly becomes much more complex.”
Some in Turkey see a Western attempt to push Ankara into taking the leading role, and a large part of the risk, in Syria.
Parliament speaker Cemil Cicek, from Erdogan’s AK Party, blamed what he called “Western cunning” for trying to push Turkey into action. “Everyone is on the sidelines as if they are watching a match and saying ‘let Turkey sort it out’.”
That at least was how many observers saw last week’s visit to Ankara of CIA Director David Petraeus.
“It seems Turkey has been left holding the baby,” said Ali Nihat Ozcan, a security analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey.
The Americans, he said, “are probably trying to encourage Turkey to get more involved. Turkey is having second thoughts.”
Turkey has not yet rowed back, but much of the rhetoric has been replaced by a determined attempt to forge more consensus on Syria, hosting a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Istanbul on April 1 to try keep it high on the international agenda.
There Turkey will do what it diplomatically does best, bringing together the West and the Middle East where it uniquely has a foot in both camps.
“I would have thought the thing to do is to get back in the pack as far as Nato and the Western alliance is concerned; you are not exposed in the way that Turkey has been,” said Robins.
“You can have your own perspective on what is happening. You are still deeply alarmed at the loss of life and devastation in Syria, but you can only really move in tandem with the alliance more generally and with the Americans in particular.”
 
The Shadow Commander smiles for the camera
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2015-03-03
Author : Diana Mukkaled
Before a year ago, mystery, intrigue and frustration surrounded the search for any report, photograph, or fact relating to Qassem Suleimani, the leader of Iran's Quds Force, a division of...
Handing over: I have control...
Source : Gulf Daily News  
Date : 2015-03-03
Author : Winfred Peppinck
Like one of your discerning readers, I too was bemused by the 'euphoria' which greeted the announcement that last year, Gulf Air had slashed annual losses 'down to BD63 million.'...
No place for vandalism and graffiti in Sultanate
Source : Oman Daily Observer  
Date : 2015-03-03
Author : Ali Ahmed al Riyami
While in some countries various media and other broadcasting campaigns have gone a long way in reducing the incidence of acts of vandalism and the scrawling of graffiti in and...
Tourism major contributor to growth of economy
Source : Oman Daily Observer  
Date : 2015-03-03
Author : Lo'ai Batainah
We have spoken last week about the growing interest by many countries including Gulf ones in promoting various kinds of tourism with MICE at its foremost....
Kuwait is not 'Makboos'
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2015-03-03
Author : Shamlan Al-Essa
Kuwait celebrated its National and Liberation days last week and our celebrations were beautiful and varied. Communications companies and banks were creative in projecting the Kuwaiti personality in an innovative...
Disciplining Officials
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2015-03-03
Author : Mudaffar Abdullah
Why don't senior officials adopt a project to light a torch commemorating Kuwait's martyrs in various wars and during the Iraqi aggression and lay flowers on a suitable monument celebrating...
Netanyahu's gamble
Source : The Peninsula  
Date : 2015-03-03
Author : Jackson Diehl
Three times in the past 20 years, an Israeli prime minister has headed into an election while openly battling a US president. The first two times the incumbent lost, establishing...
Khaled Al-Faisal returns!
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-03-03
Author : Khaled M. Batarfi
It was summer 2007, when a royal decree appointed Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Amir of Asir, as the new Amir of Makkah. I was then deputy editor of Alwatan Daily, based...
The Arab industry dream
Source : Khaleej Times  
Date : 2015-03-03
Author : Dr Ahmed Mokhtar
Increasing bilateral trade between Arab countries cannot be translated into reality unless they take serious steps...
A make-or-break speech
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-03-03
Author : Linda S. Heard
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is about to step into the lion's den but there's little chance he'll emerge unscathed. His currency with the White House and the Democrats...
Iran's hunger for regional hegemony
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-03-03
Author : Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Iran's fingerprints are everywhere. Its activities expand throughout the region, mostly around Saudi Arabia, in Iraq, Yemen, the Gulf, Syria and Lebanon, where it is involved in politics, media, oil,...
Widening scope of war on terror
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-03-03
Author : Fayez Sara
The Middle East has been buzzing with diplomatic activities during the past few months. World leaders are shuttling between capitals of key regional powers particularly Riyadh....
A divided America...
Source : Gulf Daily News  
Date : 2015-03-02
Author : James J. Zogby
In a few days, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will mount the podium of the US Congress to speak before a joint session of the House and Senate. He will...
Tehran obsessed with conspiracies
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2015-03-02
Author : Ahmed Al-Jarallah
The stances of Mullah regime, through which they hurled accusations at neighboring countries in a bid to deceive millions of Iranians who fell under an economic crisis caused by the...
Jihadi John, Khalid Sheikh not Kuwaitis
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2015-03-02
Author : Khaled Aljenfawi
Even though almost all Western media's representations of terrorists in the Middle East tend to be accurate and professional; however, some Western journalistic reporting is faulty! Take for example, how...
Total 200 Results in 14 Pages
  3 
For more news, views and reports about this topic, please subscribe
to GRC website: www.grc.net
Sat Mar 7, 2015| 16-جماد أول-1436هـ
Kerry eases Gulf concerns over Iran nuclear deal
Saudi Arabia sees oil market stabilising, raises prices
Mohamed holds talks with S.Korea president
UAE banks' credit growth forecast at 7.8% in 2015
Houthi fighters seize national dialogue HQ
Qatar, Luxembourg in strategic deal
Terrorism a threat to human values: Qatar
Selling pressure, speculations led KSE down this week - experts
Iran promoting terrorism, taking over Iraq: KSA
Sultanate likely to step up sukuk, debt issuance
Iraq says Daesh militants 'bulldozed' ancient site
Iraq in talks to issue $6b bonds
EU sees progress in nuclear talks with Iran
Rumors of conspiracy effect on oil prices drop 'untrue' - Saudi minister
Islamic State militants torch oil field near Tikrit
UAE, South Korea to boost bilateral ties in nuclear energy
    Newspaper Editorials
Sparring over the stick
Time will tell domestic, international impact of Netanyahu speech
More>>  
    Opinions
Iran's Suspect Deal in the Making
Peace hope dims further
More>>  
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    Reports
Iranian Nuclear Program Negotiations : What Next?
More>>  
    Bank Reports
Saudi Arabia Banking Sector
GCC Equity Monitor - Global
More>>  
    GRC Analysis
Saudi Arabia and the ASEAN Periphery: Cambodia, Myanmar, and Brunei
NATO and the Future of Gulf Security.
Saudi-Vietnam Relations
    GRC Commentary
Price of not heeding Kingdom's advice
On Relations between Rulers and Citizens: The Need for a New Social/Political Contract in the GCC States
Key Issue Facing the Saudi Ruling House.
    GRC Book Review
Beyond Regionalism? Regional Cooperation, Regionalism and Regionalization in the Middle East
India, GCC and the Global Energy Regime: Exploring Interdependence and Outlook for Collaboration.
    GRC Press Release
Gulf Research Center press releases to the media
    GRC Publications
Evaluating Financial Literacy Training for Migrant Workers in the Gulf
The Socio-Political Background and Stakes of ‘Saudizing’ the Workforce in Saudi Arabia: the Nitaqat Policy
Current Progress in the Nationalisation Programmes in Saudi Arabia
    GRC Newsletters/Bulletins

Enter your email to get the Newsletter
Go
      
Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Terms & Conditions | About Us |
Weather | Qibla Directions | Hijri Date Conversion Tool
Full Page :total time:0  |   46-- 46 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 46 - 46--en--sess-enreq-en-coming