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Turkey’s Syria Policy: No Easy Answers

Turkey’s Syria policies were not wrong, but poorly presented.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul waves as he visits the bomb scene on May 16, 2013 during the funerals of the victims of a car bomb which went off on May 11 at Reyhanli in Hatay just a few kilometres from the main border crossing into Syria. The death toll in twin car bombings in a Turkish town near the Syrian border has increased to 50 after another body was recovered and a victim died in hospital, the health minister was quoted as saying on May 14. The attacks also provoked a backlash against Syrian refugee

The Syrian issue has not only lead to qualms over and criticism of Turkey’s Middle East policy that has otherwise been praised in recent years, it has also poisoned the country’s domestic politics. In the latest example, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and main opposition Republican Peoples Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu are going to court over of their opposing views on Turkey's Syria policy.

For two politicians to insult each other with vulgar language and for them to differ widely over Syria may not be anything new, but after the May 11 bombings in Reyhanli, their polemics became severe. Erdogan blamed the Syrian regime and President Bashar al-Assad, whom he calls a "dictator" for the Reyhanli attacks, and Kemal Kilicdaroglu held Erdogan’s “wrong Syrian policy" responsible for spilling the blood of Turkish citizens and labeled Erdogan the "dictator" and a “murderer.”

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