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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.