News / Europe

Turkey Moves to Directly Support Syrian Opposition

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (file photo)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (file photo)
Dorian Jones

The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is increasingly taking the lead in supporting the Syrian opposition. Erdoğan condemned the vetoing of a United Nations resolution against Damascus and has announced it will impose its own sanctions. This week saw the start of military exercises on the Syrian border.

The Turkish military is currently holding a five-day military exercise on the Syrian border. The last time such a major exercise occurred was 13 years ago when Ankara threatened to invade Syria unless it expelled the Turkish Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan. The diplomatic correspondent for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, Semih Idiz, says the exercises are aimed at sending a message to the Syrians.

"This will represent a kind of muscle flexing on Turkey's part," said Idiz. "But I think we've got a long way for this to translate into a some kind of military confrontation. But I don't think we are at that stage. But its a clear indication the government has given up on Damascus. and its now concerned about protecting its 850-kilometer border with this country."

Protecting that border is important Idiz says, with the expectation in Ankara that an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will continue to grow along with a risk of more refugees crossing the border. Already thousands have fled to Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to visit the refugee camps in the near future. Following that visit sanctions are expected to be announced. Mr. Erdogan,  during a visit this week to South Africa, condemned the vetoing of a United Nations motion against Syria.

Erdoğan promised that Turkey and the European Union will move to tighten sanctions against Syria.

Details of the moves remain unclear. Turkey already is imposing an arms embargo.
Last month the Turkish navy intercepted a Syrian bound ship from Iran carrying arms.

But chief economist Emre Yigit of the Istanbul financial trading house Global Securities, says any new measures will have a limited effect.

"We don't know the amount held by the Syrian leaders in Turkish bank, if any. It could hurt them that way," said Yigit. "I dont think the Syrian economy would collapse as a result of Turkish sanctions. It would have an impact, it would make life a little difficult. But it would not stop the Syrian government from having the ability to rule the country as it wished."

Ankara is closely coordinating its sanctions' plan with Washington, says Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat and visiting scholar of the Carnegie Institute in Europe, says:

"There have been a number very high level phones calls, conversations between the Turkish leaders and the U.S. leadership," said Ulgen. "And now the two sides are really on the same page and Turkish policy regards to Syria does seem to have the full support of the U.S. administration."

Ankara is also allowing the Syrian opposition to meet and organize in Turkey. The leader of a self styled "Syrian Free Army," made up of defectors from Syria's armed forces, is allowed to organize in Turkey.

Soli Ozel, columnist for the daily newspaper Haberturk, says that Ankara wants to avoid  intervening in Syria.

"Despite all the bravado in the talk, I think Turkey is fundamentally conservative country, it will not want to go beyond certain limits," said Ozel. "But the real problem whether or not you will be able to control every step of the way, in this unfolding problem. We now hear, and I guess its reasonable to expect the opposition to begin arming and I am sure there are plenty of sources that would like to arm the opposition. Once that starts you are  in shifting sands so whatever is your position today, may not hold ground in the future."

With Ankara severing nearly all its ties with Damascus, it seems fully committed to the opposition, whatever consequences that will bring.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid