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.
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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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