News / Europe

Turkey Debates Role in Possible Syria Intervention

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the lawmakers of his Islamic-rooted party at the parliament in Ankara,  Feb. 7, 2012.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the lawmakers of his Islamic-rooted party at the parliament in Ankara, Feb. 7, 2012.
Dorian Jones

Turkey is hardening its stance against the Syrian leadership and its Western allies are increasingly looking to Ankara for efforts to help unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. There is debate in Turkey over whether international sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Syria could lead to military intervention and what role Ankara should play.

In his weekly address to his parliamentary deputies Tuesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the U.N. Security Council's failure last weekend to pass a motion pressuring Syria was a fiasco.  He said Turkey is prepared to offer an alternative plan, even if that might trigger another veto by Russia and China, whose "no" votes blocked the original resolution on Saturday  

The prime minister said Turkey is helping to prepare a new initiative with Western allies that support opponents of the Syrian regime.  Turkey's foreign minister is set to visit Washington this week for high-level talks.

Mr. Erdogan offered no details, but word of a new plan comes as Ankara has positioned itself at the forefront of those condemning Syria, its neighbor and once close ally, for the bloodshed the Damascus regime has inflicted on protesters.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal says despite the recent U.N. setback, Ankara is looking to diplomacy to end the Syrian crackdown, even if that means diplomacy outside the U.N. framework.

"To get grounds for other countries - of course, including Arab countries - and other key partners on what can be done because of the non-response of Syria to those unilateral regional and international efforts, should not keep us from looking for other initiatives," said Unal.

Turkey is harboring a number of Syrian opposition leaders, including some from the Free Syrian Army, a militia drawn mainly from defectors from the Syrian armed forces.  Some media reports say Ankara is arming the rebels or allowing arms to be supplied to them from Arab countries.

Turkish Foreign Ministry officials deny those charges.

Semih Idiz, diplomatic correspondent for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, says Ankara does not want to act alone against Damascus.

"Well Turkey, by nature in terms of its foreign policy, and you can underline this, has always been multilateralist," said Idiz. "So in situations like this, Turkey likes to act with the international community."

Washington and London have cited the importance of Ankara, with its 800-kilometer-long border with Syria, in resolving the crisis.  Turkey's army is the second largest in NATO and could enforce a buffer zone within Syria.

The opposition Syrian National Council has been calling for intervention with Turkey playing a key role.  But Foreign Ministry spokesman Unal said the international community must be in concert with Turkey.

"At the moment there is no sort of [military] project on our agenda," he said.

However, Turkish foreign policy expert Soli Ozel says military intervention is possible if the situation in Syria deteriorates further.

"[If] you end up with civil war, with massive waves of refugees, that is going to generate a lot of problems for you as well, which is when a buffer-zone idea would, I suppose, come closer to materializing than at any other time," said Ozel.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said recently that Turkey's doors are open to Syrian refugees.  If need be, he pledged, they will be taken into people's homes.  That offer has been interpreted by some Turks as a warning to Damascus: As Mr. Erdogan has said, Turkey will not stand by as Syria implodes.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs