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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora