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 Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs