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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid