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.”
 
Turkey's Inferiority Complex
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Salman Aldossary
For more than a year now, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been breaking all diplomatic customs and political protocols with his extreme enmity towards all that is Egyptian and...
Aren't the young adults of Oman, potentially, great?
Source : Oman Daily Observer  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Ray Petersen
I'M really lucky at the moment, to be teaching a group of 23 young Omani women, who come from mainly rural environments from Barka, in the north, to Salalah in...
The forgotten front...
Source : Gulf Daily News  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : James J. Zogby
While the world's attention has been focused on the combined efforts of Arab and US forces attacking 'Islamic State' (IS) positions in Iraq and Syria, there is unfolding in Lebanon,...
Why The Surplus?
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Badrya Darwish
Reading the financial report released by NBK on the government's finances and budget for the fiscal year 2013/2014, I don't see anything interesting or different from the previous years. Except...
Sponsors suffer abuse too
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Khaled Aljenfawi
Although I agree that there is a need to provide more adequate protection to Kuwait's domestic helpers, yet the dominant negative perception about the situation of maids and drivers in...
Erdogan's behaviour must not be tolerated
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Khalaf Ahmed Al Habtoor
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s visit to New York to speak before the United Nations General Assembly was not only a public relations coup, he and his team did some furious networking...
Reverence for State
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Two news stories are currently the main concern of Kuwaitis. The first is about a lawmaker who walked out of the Parliament during the national meeting on a sensitive issue...
How the strategy against IS was built
Source : The Peninsula  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Karen DeYoung
After keeping his promise to avoid American involvement in extended wars for nearly six years, President Barack Obama last week began a military engagement that he acknowledged is likely to...
Erdogan's Egypt diatribe
Source : Khaleej Times  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Dr Ahmed Mokhtar
Egyptians are convinced that Erdogan's dream was not limited to Egypt, and that he was planning to go for other countries in the Arab region....
Hanging in the balance
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Hassan Barari
With Britain joining the international coalition designed to help roll back the considerable threat posed by the Islamic State (IS), it is possible to say that the anti-IS coalition has...
Toward comprehensive development of KSA
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Talal Al-Harbi
Development cannot be treated or dealt with as an isolated defining term in the absence of general measures to assess its importance in the progress of a society. In Saudi...
Kingdom at the forefront in fight against IS
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Saad Dosari
The world has finally decided to confront the threat of the Islamic State. It was just about time. Waves of jet fighters coming from an international coalition have started to...
Kingdom's participation in fighting terror
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Jasser Al-Jasser
The Kingdom's participation in fighting terrorists who belong to the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Al-Nusra Front and Khorasan group in Syria refutes all claims that terrorism is a Sunni brand....
Saudi Adahi project
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2014-09-29
Author : Abdullah Sayil
The Saudi Project for Utilization of Haj Meat (Adahi) is one of its kind. When a pilgrim pays to this organization, he should be positive that the meat will feed...
Do Khorasan militants represent a real threat?
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2014-09-28
Author : Theodore Karasik
The Khorasan Group (KG) burst on the scene lately and was struck unilaterally by the United States in the very first strike against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra Front (hereafter al-Nusra)...
Total 200 Results in 14 Pages
  3 
For more news, views and reports about this topic, please subscribe
to GRC website: www.grc.net
Thu Oct 2, 2014| 07-ذو الحجة-1435هـ
Bahrain warns of legal action against calls to boycott polls
Gulf needs non-oil tradable sector: IMF
Oman supports intآ'l coalition against terrorism
52% express confidence in UAE's banking system: Survey
Yemenis protest to press for Houthi withdrawal
Qatar's economy sees 5.7% growth in second quarter
Iran pledges equipment for Lebanon army
Gulf stocks post strong gains despite oil slump
Iran extends electricity export deal with Iraq
ISIS could use nuclear arms against UK: May
Etihad Rail to launch next phase of UAE railway network
MERS raises its ugly head again
FOA: Clashes in Yemen deepening food security problem
UK Air Force conducts 1st airstrikes of Iraq mission
Two terror cell suspects were trained by ISIS, says witness
KPC partakes in APPEC oil Conference in Singapore
    Newspaper Editorials
Afghanistan in new period of transition
Much at stake in Hong Kong
More>>  
    Opinions
Defending our borders
Saudi-UAE pact a ray of hope for region
More>>  
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    Reports
Iran and the P5+1: Getting to 'Yes'
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
GCC’s External Trade Integration: An Assessment
GCC Relations with Post-War Iraq: A Strategic Perspective
The Union Moment for the GCC
    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  |   16-- 16 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 16 - 16--en--sess-enreq-en-coming