News / Middle East

Syrian Intervention Renewal an Ankara Balancing Act

Turkish tanks positioned at a military base near the town of Suruc along the Syrian border, Sanliurfa province, Nov. 15, 2012.
Turkish tanks positioned at a military base near the town of Suruc along the Syrian border, Sanliurfa province, Nov. 15, 2012.
Dorian Jones
Turkey's parliament voted Thursday to extend a mandate authorizing deployment of troops in Syria if necessary for another year.
 
Passing parliament with a show of hands, the law was strongly opposed by the country's main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which condemns the ruling AK Party’s policy of backing Syrian rebel forces, and claims the mandate would further ratchet up regional tensions.
 
Despite the mandate's passage, Semih Idiz, diplomatic columnist for the Turkish daily newspaper Taraf, says Ankara is unlikely to use it.
 
"I can’t see unilateral intervention on Turkey’s part unless there is some major national security threat involved," he said. "The government has the mandate, but it does not have the opposition on its side or public opinion on its side. So it's very unlikely it will want use the mandate to suit its own purposes."
 
Although the AK Party has been at the forefront of opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, public opinion polls find a growing majority of Turks oppose the party's stance.
 
Over the past few months, Turkey has bolstered its forces along the border, where it has been aiding the rebel forces, and last month shot down a Syrian government helicopter which it said had violated its airspace.
 
Sinan Ulgen, visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, says Turkish attitudes on Syria will continue to harden as the crisis worsens.
 
"[Turks] believe this is going to raise security issues in Turkey," he said. "They also believe Turkey is quite isolated and, given that [Syria] is [a] neighboring country, Turkey is going to be much more [vulnerable] to retaliatory action by Syria and its allies."
 
Assad on Friday warned in a Turkish television interview that Turkey could pay a high price for its support of al-Qaida-linked groups that are fighting his regime.
 
While Ankara strongly denies supporting al-Qaida, analysts say groups allegedly linked to the terror organization operate along the border, adding to growing unease on the part of the Turkish public over the government’s Syria policy.
 
Soli Ozel, an international relations expert at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University, says the concerns won't result in changes to the mandate.
 
"They put all their eggs in one basket, and they are committed — over-committed, super-committed — to the departure of Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria," she said. "They thought Bashar would go very easily, and the Islamists were set to gain power, which the current government in Turkey feels very comfortable and ideologically akin to."
 
But Idiz says public opinion will inevitably factor into government policymaking with elections looming and large numbers of Turkish troops and tanks amassing on the border.
 
"We have a spate of elections coming up in Turkey, starting with local elections in early 2014 to be followed by presidential and then parliamentary elections going on to 2015," he said. "So with this highly politically-charged environment, I would say the government will be very, very alert to how the public feels."

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid