News / Middle East

Turkish Public Not Enthusiastic About Possible Attack on Syria

FILE - A protester shouts slogans against Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government's policy on Syria, during a demonstration in Ankara, May 18, 2013.
FILE - A protester shouts slogans against Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government's policy on Syria, during a demonstration in Ankara, May 18, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Turkey has pledged support for a military strike against Syria. It has a crucial air base used by the U.S. and has a formidable air force. But the country's opposition parties are against joining a military operation targeting Syria, and, according to opinion polls, the public remains deeply skeptical of getting involved in the conflict.

The Turkish government has been at the forefront of demands that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad be held to account for last month’s alleged chemical weapons attack.
 
Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, says Turkey would be a strong U.S. ally in any action Washington takes against Damascus. But he also warns that differences remain.
 
"Turkey is very supportive of the idea to punish Assad and his regime for his use of chemical weapons. The difference being that Turkey wants the strike to be much more ambitious, so that it would help with the objective of ousting of Assad from power," says Ulgen.
 
President Barack Obama has said any strike against Syria would be limited in scope and would not seek to remove the regime. Despite such differences, Semih Idiz, a diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Taraf, says Ankara will support a U.S.-led operation against Syria. He says, however, that such support may be limited.
 
"Foreign Minister [Ahmet] Davutoglu has said Turkey would be willing to take part in a coalition of the willing, should it be established. But there is a very serious question as to whether Turkey can actually take part in any military operations against Syria. The idea is very unpopular amongst the public in Turkey [and] with the opposition, who claims it has to be mandated by parliament, and there is no such mandate. And most analysts believe [Turkey] won’t take part militarily; that it will provide logistic supports, mainly through the bases that the Americans have in Turkey, like Incirlik," says Idiz.
 
Possible retaliation

Located close to the Syrian border, Turkey's Incirlik air base has been used by U.S. forces for decades. But even allowing the use of its airspace and bases for any potential U.S. strike carries inherent risks for Turkey, according to Kadri Gursel, diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet. He says Ankara is concerned that a limited U.S. military operation leaves open the specter of Syrian retaliation.
 
"There two kinds of possible retaliations. One is terrorism, which [was] proved in May - the worst terrorist attack in Turkish modern history, in Reyhanli. And also, theoretically and militarily speaking, Turkey is a target of [the] Syrian chemical arsenal," says Gursel.
 
The Turkish government blamed Damascus for May’s car bomb attacks that destroyed the town center in Reyhanli, close to the Syrian border. The blasts killed more than 50 people. Concerns over possible future attacks were heightened last month, when local media claimed Turkish authorities had detained two Syrians carrying large amounts of explosives while they were attempting to enter Turkey from Syria.
 
Diplomatic columnist Idiz warns any U.S. attack on Syria is likely to result in a strong public reaction in Turkey, especially if Ankara participates.
 
"The Turkish public has always been against Western intervention in Islamic countries, and especially in the Middle East.  We will have demonstrations in Turkey; I think we might see the riot police on the streets again. Already, we have seen opposition channels and newspapers in a way inciting that possibility, should the strikes go ahead," says Idiz.
 
This past June saw some of Turkey's worst anti-government protests in decades, sparked by dissatisfaction with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's style of leadership. Ankara’s policy of supporting the Syrian rebels, according to opinion polls, is already deeply unpopular, even among government supporters. Analysts warn the Turkish government could pay a high price for any support it gives to U.S.-led strikes against Syria, should they occur.

You May Like

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs