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.”
 
Khalid Al-Fawwaz and the Problem of Terrorism
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2015-05-19
Author : Mshari Al-Zaydi
On Friday the New York Federal Court sentenced Khalid Al-Fawwaz, a suspect in the deadly 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, to life in prison....
Children's upbringing
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2015-05-19
Author : Aziza Al-Mufarej
I did not believe a mother could see her son holding a wooden stick and hitting an educational model without preventing him decisively. Rather she was satisfied with saying "enough...
The Storm blew away the Gulf cop's uniform
Source : The Peninsula  
Date : 2015-05-19
Author : Dr Abdul Hadi Al Ajmi
Lately, during the Society for History and Heritage Conference, researcher Dr Sultan Al Asqa spoke about the long-lasting conflict in the Gulf over the centuries by some of the competing...
Sect or tribe shouldn't matter for states
Source : The Peninsula  
Date : 2015-05-19
Author : Dr Faisal Al Qassem
It is not possible for a regime that is founded on narrow fanaticism, whether sectarian, denominational, tribal, national, zonal, military or security-based to build a country no matter how much...
Far away myths and nearby reassurances
Source : The Peninsula  
Date : 2015-05-19
Author : Dr Mohamed Al Rumaihi
The most actively traded questions in the Gulf over the last year are: Would the GCC pact ever unravel because of disagreements? What are the available options for GCC countries...
Why do Arab kids want to be famous on Instagram?
Source : Gulf Today  
Date : 2015-05-19
Author : Khalid Al Ameri
One early morning during a youth development workshop I asked a group of fourth graders a question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Please keep in...
Obama fails to reassure partners on Iran
Source : Khaleej Times  
Date : 2015-05-19
Author : Howard LaFranchi
The US says it can help the Gulf States counter Iran's destabilising actions not by going head to head....
'Aden is lost!'
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-05-19
Author : Khaled M. Batarfi
"Aden is dying! Aden is losing! Aden is lost!" said my friend in Aden who is a doctor who fights death every day in a city under Houthi bombardment around...
Never invite your wife for dinner during week days
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-05-19
Author : Fahd Jleid
The other day I made the grave and regrettable mistake of inviting my wife for dinner in a restaurant. The news soon went viral on social media and my wife...
The Syria dilemma
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-05-19
Author : Osman Mirghani
The Syrian crisis is one of the worst humanitarian disasters that the Middle East has ever witnessed, if not the worst. In one of its most recent reports, the European...
Trust, but verify
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-05-19
Author : Linda S. Heard
Last week's Camp David summit has been billed as a success story. Ties between the US and GCC member states, recently put to the test, have warmed. Without wishing to...
Lessons learned from war
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2015-05-18
Author : Labeed Abdal
Several countries have recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and the victory over Nazism, Fascism and all intentions that threatened international peace, security, stability...
Issues tissues
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2015-05-18
Author : Talal Al-Ghannam
Good morning my honorable readers and I wish all a happy holiday. As you notice from the title of my article today, the article will tackle awkward behaviors noticed in...
What about our own responsibility to Syria?
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2015-05-18
Author : Osman Mirghani
The Syrian crisis is one of the worst humanitarian disasters that the Middle East has ever witnessed, if not the worst. In one of its most recent reports, the European...
Morning of Gulf wisdom
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2015-05-18
Author : Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Results of the Camp David Summit confirmed have that GCC countries deal with their allies as counterparts. This was manifested in the joint statement since these countries used balanced...
Total 200 Results in 14 Pages
  3 
For more news, views and reports about this topic, please subscribe
to GRC website: www.grc.net
Fri May 22, 2015| 03-شعبان-1436هـ
Three South Korea MERS cases have origin in GCC
Al-Naimi sees eventual end of fossil fuels
More strikes as Houthis pay the price for rejecting Riyadh conference demands
Gulf banks expand role as syndicated lenders
Alarm as half of Syria under IS control
Gulf markets edge up as oil prices rise; Egypt resumes rally
Media's role vital in spreading culture of tolerance: UAE
Minister calls for intensifying efforts to spur GCC economy
Bahrain oppn leader to be sentenced next month
UAE companies can improve business performance with CSR
Al-Ghanim condemns Israel's continued detention of Palestinian MPs
93.3 per cent Omanisation in local banks: CBO data
Qatar Ministry slams Amnesty over labour claims
Kuwait's Al Ahli Bank buying Piraeus Bank Egypt for $150mn
Iran warns Israel of Hezbollah rockets if attacked
Iraqi forces thwart Daesh attack east of Ramadi
    Newspaper Editorials
Camp David summit: GCC made its point
Let UN talk to Houthis for peace in Yemen
More>>  
    Opinions
Changing the rules of the game
United Airlines press release can backfire amid subsidy spat
More>>  
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    Reports
The Arab-U.S. Strategic Partnership and the Changing Security Balance in the Gulf
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
Demography, Migration, and the Labour Market in Bahrain
Islamic Finance: A three-volumes series.
United Arab Emirates’ Legal Framework of Migration
    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  |   48-- 48 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 48 - 48--en--sess-enreq-en-coming