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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid