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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More