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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid