News / Middle East

Turkey, France Find Common Ground on Syria

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, left, and Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, Ankara, Nov. 18, 2011.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, left, and Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, Ankara, Nov. 18, 2011.
Dorian Jones

Despite strained diplomacy between France and Turkey, the two nations have found mostly common ground in supporting Syrian opposition.

A French objection to Ankara's bid to join the European Union has severely strained ties between the powers, which have been exacerbated by recent policy differences over Libya.

After meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara on Friday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said both countries agree Syrian President Bashar al Assad's government crackdown is unsustainable and that the time has come for France and Turkey to align Syrian policies.

Juppe said Paris is preparing to submit a resolution to the United Nations Security Council that would condemn Syria and possibly pave the way for increased sanctions. He also said France opposes unilateral intervention in Syria and that any such decision would have to be made by the United Nations.

On Thursday in Istanbul, head of Syria's exiled Muslim Brotherhood called on Turkey to intervene militarily. Both Juppe and Davutoglu said they will oppose such a move unless agreed upon by the U.N.

Davutoglu said Turkey will do everything to stop the bloodshed from the government backlash in Syria, starting first with added sanctions. He said it was premature to discuss military intervention.

Coordinating divergent groups

France and Turkey have provided havens for some key Syrian opposition figures.

Suat Kiniklioglu, former chair of the Turkish parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), says France and Turkey can play key roles in helping Syria's divergent opposition groups solidify.

"The catchword right now is the maturing of the Syrian political opposition," said Kiniklioglu, who emphasized AKP's encouragement of only peaceful resistance. "Obviously [the French] have contacts. We do as well. If these can be brought together to help them mature, to help them organize better, and to get unified around a leadership, that would obviously be very helpful for potential changes that are likely to happen in Syria."

But France and Turkey differ on what to do about the Free Syrian Army, a militia made up mostly of defectors from Syrian security forces. The group has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Syria this week and, according to some reports, receives tacit support from Turkish forces, including the harboring of a top Syrian military defector.

Juppe stressed the need for the Syrian opposition to remain peaceful, warning of the dangers of civil war.

Soli Ozel, an international relations expert at Istanbul's Kadir Has University, says Ankara is taking a political risk by aligning with the Free Syrian Army.

"I find it a very risky position to take, to host the so-called commander of the Syria Free Army here on Turkish soil," said Ozel. "But I understand he is being kept under a very tight leash. Will that change in the future? I don't know. I hope it doesn't because that puts Turkey in really hot water. Do you really want to be hosting an army that is fighting your neighbor?"

For now, France and Turkey are agreeing to move toward sanctions before Syria heads toward what many fear is a path to civil war.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs