Increasing Chaos in Syria Opens
By: Fikret Bila Translated from Milliyet (Turkey).
Turkey has decided to expel all Syrian diplomats in response to the massacre carried out by the Syrian regime in the city of Houla. Ten other countries have made similar decisions. By joining them, Turkey has blown up all bridges to Syria.
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Whether or not Bashar al-Assad is forced from power, the current geopolitical situation has created a new challenge for Turkey along the Syrian border, writes Fikret Bila. As PKK rebels establish bases along the now-lawless northern Syrian frontier, Turkey will have to deal with the consequences of the chaos in Syria more than any other regional player.Publisher: Milliyet (Turkey)
Syrian Chaos Offering new Opportunities to PKK
Author: Fikret Bila
First Published: May 31, 2012
Posted on: May 31 2012
Translated by: Timur Goksel
The chaos in Syria is pushing the country to a civil war, with extremely dangerous implications for the region. The regime of Bashar al-Assad continues to besiege towns with heavy weapons and kill its own people. The opposition has not acquired enough strength to rid the country of the regime.
At the outset, by referring frequently to the prospect of military intervention, the West was trying to persuade Assad to give up power. Now, although military intervention is still cited as an option, this threat is not as convincing. A military intervention based on a UN resolution seems unlikely.
One reason is Russia’s continued support for Syria. And although China is trying to follow a middle course, it also opposes intervention.
The US is heading toward presidential elections. Nobody expects President Barack Obama to opt for military intervention to the tune of Afghanistan and Iraq while campaigning for reelection. And European countries have not favored military intervention at all from the start.
One of the factors that makes military intervention a weak possibility is the fear over the unknown that would come after Assad. The West is worried that radical religious groups will take over after Assad leaves.
This is why Obama is proposing a “Yemen model,” which stipulates that Bashar should hand over power to other stalwarts within the Baathist regime. However, Assad is not likely to accept such a plan. All indicators point to Syria being left to its own devices, which means a high probability for civil war.
Turkey will be the country most affected by any war resulting from the chaos in Syria. Besides severe economic losses, it is necessary to consider the fact that northern Syria will quickly turn into a Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) hot spot, like northern Iraq.
The PKK, taking advantage of the chaos in Syria, has lined up alongside the Assad regime while feverishly building bases along the Turkish border. The PKK has infiltrated three Kurdish regions there and has started operations in Turkey. We now know that three terrorists involved in the May 25 bombing at Pinarbasi crossed over from Syria. Turkey, which already has problems controlling its border with Iraq, will have serious problems dealing with infiltrations across the 900km Syrian border.
If Assad continued to rule, it is obvious that — just as in the old days — Damascus would support the PKK against Turkey. Should Assad leave, it is not certain that the new administration will be able to control northern Syria.
Given that Syria is an integral part of the Greater Kurdistan project, the PKK will try to create another northern Iraqi model there. In both cases, the Syrian border will be a serious challenge for Turkey.
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