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Turkey's military actions in Syria will be on its own terms

While Turkey's parliament has passed an authorization to send troops into Syrian or Iraqi territory, the country's plans may not dovetail with those of the anti-Islamic State coalition's.
A Turkish soldier sits on the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province September 22, 2014. More than 130,000 Syrian Kurds fleeing an advance by Islamic State militants have crossed into Turkey in the past three days and the authorities are preparing for more, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday.  REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR476RO

Unexpected support from the ultranationalist and fervently anti-Kurdish Nationalist Action Party (MHP) authorizing the government to send troops into Syrian or Iraqi territory comforted the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu duo and prevented a repetition of the notorious “March 1 motion” that the Turkish parliament aborted on that day in 2003. The 2003 vote effectively closed all chances the United States had to open a “second front” on the eve of its war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

In 2003, even though the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) backed the motion, opposition parties combined with some AKP defections defeated the measure by four votes. While many quarters in Turkey lauded the result as a turning point salvaging Turkey’s foreign policy from being mortgaged to the West and as a source of national pride for the country and the AKP government by bestowing upon Turkey great prestige in the Middle East, the reality was that it caused serious damage to US-Turkey relations that needed a long time to repair. This placed Turkey in a bystander position vis-a-vis developments in its immediate neighborhood.

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