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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid