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

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid