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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora