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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More