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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

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