News / Middle East

Most Turks Oppose Taking Sides in Syrian Conflict

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, May 11, 2012. Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, May 11, 2012.
x
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, May 11, 2012.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, May 11, 2012.
Dorian Jones
ISTANBUL - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been among the strongest opponents of the Syrian government and its ongoing violent crackdown on dissent. But a recent opinion poll found a majority of Turks are calling for a more neutral approach. It's the latest setback for the Turkish leader over Syria.

An opinion poll by the Ankara Social Research Center published this month has found that more than two-thirds of those polled opposed any intervention by Turkey in Syria. The poll also revealed that a majority, even those who support the Turkish prime minister's party, believed Ankara should not take sides in the conflict.  

In a shopping plaza in central Istanbul, those poll numbers are echoed:

We should stay neutral, this man says. We should not be involved. It is our neighbor and it is a civil war, which means we should not take sides. It will be very dangerous for us to get involved.

But Cengiz Aktar, a political scientist at Istanbul's Bahcesehir University, says it comes down to a long tradition of Turks having little interest in foreign affairs.

"Turks don't feel concerned with that [Syria]," said Aktar. "Like they don't feel concerned with any similar disaster happening in the close vicinity or far away. They don't pay attention. They are not interested in foreign developments."

Analysts say the prime minister, who is renowned for closely following opinion polls, is likely to be disappointed by the indifference - if not opposition - to his government's stance towards Syria.

The poll comes as Erdogan is facing growing criticism from the media and, reportedly, from his own diplomatic corps, that he has misread the Syrian conflict.

Sinan Ulgen is a former senior Turkish diplomat who now heads EDAM, the Istanbul-based international affairs research institute.

"I think Ankara decided to burn bridges too fast too prematurely," said Ulgen. "It has decided to support the opposition groups - both the Syrian National Council and Free Syrian Army - with the belief it will help Ankara in a post-Assad period. However, it turns out the Assad regime has proven more resilient than initially thought. Now Ankara has to re-engineer a new policy."

A report in The New York Times Thursday alleges that CIA agents working with their Turkish counterparts are facilitating the supply of arms to Syrian rebels. Turkish officials have so far not commented on the report.  But earlier this month, a senior Turkish diplomat flatly denied that Ankara would allow the supply of weapons to rebels.

International relations expert Aktar says the prime minister is increasingly frustrated by his Western allies over Syria.

"Unfortunately [he] miscalculated the interventionist will of his partners," he said. "He became more realistic as he probably tested the will of his partners, especially the Americans and the French. And, as he can't do it alone, he has toned down his ambitions."

Turks are not the only ones with a hands-off attitude toward the Assad government. According to a study by U.S.-based Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project, a vast majority of Jordanians, Egyptians and Tunisians would like to see Assad step down. But, among those countries, there is limited support for tougher international economic sanctions or Arab military intervention, and very little support for Western military action.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ismail ALjazaeri
June 22, 2012 1:57 PM
Arab are refusing to see a fundamentlist islamist regime taking power in Syria. Western powers are confusing us. In one hand they calim to fight Islamism and extremism in the other hjand they supporting them in Libya, Syria and Elsewhere? What is going on, please tell us!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid