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.”
 
ISIS is real, not a nightmare
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2014-10-21
Author : Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Prior to June 6, Iraq's former prime minister, Nuri Al-Maliki, treated warnings about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with disdain, claiming reports about the group were meant...
Efforts to conscript Turkey
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2014-10-21
Author : Yousef Awadh
It is glaring that the international community has reached the dead end in its bid to persuade Turkey to join the international actions against DAESH. Through the statements made by...
Need for more self-employed entrepreneurs in the Sultanate
Source : Oman Daily Observer  
Date : 2014-10-21
Author : Ali Ahmed al Riyami
While the number of Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the Sultanate is on the increase, there are still not enough individuals with entrepreneurial spirit going into business for...
Capital markets and global oil price fallout
Source : Oman Daily Observer  
Date : 2014-10-21
Author : Lo'ai Batainah
The change in investors' sentiment and decisions means a lot for analysts and observers; it means a shift in investors' appetite and unwillingness to face any possible financial or operational...
Happiness index
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2014-10-21
Author : Labeed Abdal
The happiness index was launched recently in Dubai as a unique initiative to detect people's level of contentment from government services. This is a positive step that gives the impression...
The Three-Minute Policy
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2014-10-21
Author : Thaar Al-Rashidi
In view of the extreme fogginess overwhelming our political practices where visibility is much less than one meter in most cases, it is hard to predict what might happen tomorrow....
Protecting scholars in war-torn states essential for rebuilding
Source : Gulf Times  
Date : 2014-10-21
Author : Mark A Angelson and Allan E Goodman
The application from an Iraqi university professor to the Scholar Rescue Fund was chilling. It described how he had been pressured relentlessly by a local militia to promote its agenda...
Muddy anti-terrorism policy
Source : Gulf Today  
Date : 2014-10-21
Author : Vijay Prashad
The United States and its allies continue to bomb northern Iraq and Syria. The purported target is the ISIS, whose territory stretches across the borders of the two countries. The...
Who will help Turkey help Kobane?
Source : The Peninsula  
Date : 2014-10-21
Author : Mevlüt Çavuolu
The plight of the small town of Kobane has become the focus of the world’s attention amid the devastation and misery of Syria. With each day the reign of terror...
Who supplied Saddam's germ weapons?
Source : Khaleej Times  
Date : 2014-10-21
Author : Eric S. Margolis
While covering Iraq in 1990, I discovered the United States and Britain had been secretly building a germ weapons arsenal for Iraq to use against Iran in the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq...
The killing fields
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2014-10-21
Author : Bikram Vohra
There are hotspots that the sun sends out and then there are those that are man-made and treacherous. A genuine hotspot and going beyond the mere fluff of a label...
The Emergency is Not the Islamic State but War
Source : The Counter Punch  
Date : 2014-10-20
Author : Kathy Kelly
On August 9, 1983, three people dressed as U.S. soldiers saluted their way onto a U.S. military base and climbed a pine tree. The base contained a school training elite...
Conflicting priorities for anti-ISIS coalition members
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2014-10-20
Author : Raghida Dergham
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will not compromise on the conditions he set out to President Barack Obama for entering as a direct party in the war on ISIS. He is...
Stop pointing fingers. Many sources lie behind ISIS's rise
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2014-10-20
Author : Manuel Almeida
The tens of thousands of jihadists and would-be-jihadists that have flocked to Syria, coupled with the rise of ISIS, have placed the public debate about radicalism on the spotlight. This...
Yemen's war criminal Abdulmalik Karadzic
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2014-10-20
Author : Ahmed Al-Jarallah
The Houthi Group in Yemen is a terrorist bubble that has grown through the game of contradictions. It 'grabbed' the followers of Zaiki doctrine by using threat and enticement...
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 Oct 24, 2014| 29-ذو الحجة-1435هـ
General Shaikh Mohammed holds talks with Putin
China seeks closer military ties with Iran
UAE leads IPO activity in region in Q3: PwC
South Yemen rebels vow to intensify protests
Yemen, WFP discuss food security support
IS now 'richest terror group'
Gulf airlines target Italy as transit point for expansion
Work on Qatar's new sponsorship law under way
Qatar, Iran hold talks on boosting trade ties
Lebanese gov't to stop receiving Syrian refugees, barring 'exceptional' cases
S&P reaffirms Nakilat rating at 'AA-' with stable outlook
Turkey-US ties under strain over arms airdrop
Saudi Arabia's imports jump 19.6% in August, nonoil exports up
Women warned anew: Hands off cars !
Saudi Arabia supplies less oil in September despite output rise
    Newspaper Editorials
The Blackwater trial also convicted US policy
Intimidation tactics will not work
More>>  
    Opinions
Will ISIS prolong Assad's rule?
A bubbling cauldron
More>>  
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    Reports
Justice in Transition in Yemen
The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for US Policy
More>>  
    Bank Reports
GCC Markets Performance – May 2014
Saudi Arabia: Baseline Macroeconomic Forecast 2014-16
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
Labor Market Integration in the GCC Countries
Integration Processes in Latin America
GCC’s External Trade Integration: An Assessment
    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