Home Page - Gulf in the Media
HomePoliticsEconomy                               Set Gulfinthemedia.com as home page
"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.”
Iran … DAESH's head of evil
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Who is benefiting from the instigation of hatred against Muslims? Why does a terrorist group emerge to incite hatred every time abhorrence against Muslims starts to dwindle?...
Why has the world become so savage?
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Khalaf Ahmed Al Habtoor
These days I find myself in a permanent state of shock, horror and confusion. We live in a world where human life is devalued, where barbarism, racism and bigotry are...
Monitoring and Investigation Department addresses the discrimination against Saudi women
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Samar Fatany
The women's sections in government offices are marginalized and ineffective. They do not have the authority to serve the needs of women or address their problems, according to Abdulaziz Al-Magly,...
I will not apologize!
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Khaled Al Maeena
The Paris attacks that killed 130 people and injured hundreds of others are still capturing headlines. They also occupy the top spot in social media the world over....
Dark clouds over Jeddah
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Mahmoud Ahmad
It looks like a cloud is really hanging over the city of Jeddah. For every time it rains chaos reigns in the whole city with excessive water logging in various...
The elephant in the room
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Hassan Barari
The recent deadly terrorist attacks in Paris have given rise to much speculation about whether the international community will finally put its act together and form a joint front to...
Promoting critical thinking skills
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Saad Dosari
In late October, the Ministry of Education organized the inaugural ceremony for a program that it had launched in collaboration with many ministries....
Understanding the concept of CSR
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Talal Al-Harbi
The Minister of Culture and Information, Adel Al-Toraifi, recently patronized Al-Riyadh Literary Club's annual ceremony during which its prestigious Book of the Year awards were given to Dr. Hind Al-Mutairi...
Our long history of counterterrorism
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Alaa Alghamdi
Our country has, unfortunately, had a long history of being the victim of terrorist actions. Perhaps it is due to our position as a Middle Eastern, strongly Muslim country, with...
Arab nationalists - a naïve and ignorant lot
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Following the terrorist attacks in Paris and later in Mali, most of the western media outlets were flooded with programs featuring analysts trying to understand the phenomena....
Playing with words
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Amir Taheri
The other evening in New York when Secretary of State John Kerry came to talk about President Barack Obama's foreign policy, everyone thought he had come to praise it. An...
Our vulnerable civic infrastructure
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Sabria S. Jawhar
The heavy rains this month left an estimated 12 people dead in Jeddah including a Yemeni man and an Indonesian worker who were electrocuted when they touched a lamppost....
Terrorists in bounce back
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-11-23
Author : Abdulrahman al-Rashed
In May 2011, millions of people across the world witnessed the end of the terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda, or to be more accurate, the end of the organization's leader, Osama Bin...
Total 200 Results in 14 Pages
For more news, views and reports about this topic, please subscribe
to GRC website: www.grc.net
Sat Nov 28, 2015| 15-صفر-1437هـ
Yemeni govt ready for peace negotiations, says PM
Syria military option still viable: Riyadh
UN nuclear watchdog to report on Iran probe next week
UAE, US trade stands at around Dhs69b
UN hails Bahrain’s humanitarian work
SAGIA upbeat on Moscow investment talks
Russia deploys missiles in Syria: Media
Kuwaiti MP rejects linking ISIL to Islam
Iran, Turkey confer $30b trade target
Kingdom tightens noose around top Hezbollah figures
Erdogan denies Turkey buys any oil from Islamic State
UN hails Qatar role in Libya peace deal
Syrian refugees in the US fear for those left behind
Iran urges IAEA to follow UNSC in lifting sanctions
Grand Mufti: Protecting nation 'Islamic duty of citizens'
Space sciences a lifeblood of UAE: VP
Financing 'hurdle' in climate talks buoyed by tentative hope
Shameful act
Putin's 'realpolitik' aims to make Russia indispensable
Violence begets violence
GCC Real Estate Quarterly – 2Q15
GCC Banking Sector Quarterly – 3Q15
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    GRC Analysis
The Future of Renewables in the GCC Countries
GCC and ASEAN: Charting Out the Horizon
Bright Future for Green Jobs in the GCC
    GRC Commentary
Using the Iran Nuclear Accord to Advance Regional Security
Reduce your Footprint in Ramadan
A Gulf Perspective on the 'Obama Doctrine'
    GRC Press Release
Gulf Research Center press releases to the media
    GRC Publications
A Note on Syrian Refugees in the Gulf: Attempting to Assess Data and Policies
The Legal Framework of the Sponsorship Systems of the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries: A Comparative Examination
Addressing Irregular Migration in the Gulf States
    GRC Newsletters/Bulletins

Enter your email to get the Newsletter
A Note on Syrian Refugees in the Gulf: Attempting to Assess Data and Policies
Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Terms & Conditions | About Us |
Weather | Qibla Directions | Hijri Date Conversion Tool
Full Page :total time:0  |   36-- 36 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 36 - 36--en--sess-enreq-en-coming