News / Middle East

Turkish Military Action Heightens Regional Tensions

A Turkish soldier is reflected on a mirror as he stands guard on top of an armored personnel carrier on the Turkish-Syrian border near the Akcakale border crossing, October 4, 2012.
A Turkish soldier is reflected on a mirror as he stands guard on top of an armored personnel carrier on the Turkish-Syrian border near the Akcakale border crossing, October 4, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Elizabeth Arrott
— The military exchange between Turkey and forces in Syria threatens to inflame the region, highlighting differences between Arab and non-Arab nations, as well as splits between Sunni- and Shi'ite-led governments, analysts say.

Turkey is at the forefront of nations directly confronting the Syrian government, potentially drawing its NATO allies into a conflict many in the region had hoped to solve locally.

Several regional analysts are confident Ankara will not pursue that route, despite the Wednesday's incident in which Syrian shells killed five civilians in a Turkish border town.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
“Turkey will not declare war," said Nadim Shehadi, a researcher at London-based Chatham House.  "Turkey would need international support and Arab support to move forward.” But Arab support is questionable. 

Though the Arab League suspended Syria last year, and Egypt's president is leading a regional effort to end the conflict, no Arab state is heeding Qatar's call for direct Arab military intervention.

As for Turkey's Western partners, Shehadi believes Ankara is working on a longer-term plan. “They are keeping the crisis going on a low fire and putting on the table the option of NATO needing to get involved, which will not happen, of course, now," he said.  "But it is a way of helping the Turkish government in its foreign policy.”

For much of the past decade, Ankara has been trying to raise its regional profile, cultivating ties with, among others, the Syrian government and making inroads into the political and economic spheres of its neighbors.  As the Arab Spring unfolded last year, Turkey kept up its push, being the first, for example, to establish an embassy in post-Ghadhafi Libya.  

It has long backed the uprising in Syria, has housed tens of thousands of the war's refugees and given a platform for the Syrian political opposition.  The Turkish border has become a gateway for outside support of the rebel cause, cementing Turkey's role as a regional, if non-Arab leader.

Such help has infuriated some in Damascus, like Bassam Abu Abdullah who runs a private political-research group in the Syrian capital.  “They tried to send more rebels," he said.  "They tried to send more weapons.  And we have here many nationalities [among the rebels].”

Abu Abdullah's view of the conflict, one shared by the Syrian government, is one in which Turkey is part of a wider conspiracy to isolate Syria - and its ally Iran.  “They are [having] what we would call a proxy war," Abu Abdullah said. "Who are participating?  Who are controlling all this?”

The political analyst sees it as a fundamental split between Shi'ite-led Syria and Iran, and the Sunni leadership in Turkey and the Gulf.  Abu Abdullah said the United States and Europe are using the conflict, in part, to break their nemesis Iran and the “Shi'ite crescent” that runs through the region.

Chatham House analyst Shehadi disagrees, and sees the current tensions as rising from internal Turkish politics - the opposition chiding the government for having acted too much on its own on Syria.  “That is Turkey's dilemma, because the opposition is accusing the Turkish government of conducting this adventure without real support from its NATO allies,” he said.

NATO has resisted the idea of intervening, as it did last year in Libya, and whether Turkey will ask the Western alliance to change its position is unclear.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid