Skip to main content

Can Turkey return as a player in Syria?

The siege of Aleppo and resulting refugee flow offer an opportunity for Turkey's return as a player in Syria, but realities on the ground won't make it easy.
Turkish soldiers stand guard as a Syrian refugee boy waits behind the border fences to cross into Turkey on the Turkish-Syrian border, near the southeastern town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 5, 2015. More than 3,000 Syrians fleeing clashes between Islamic State and Kurdish fighters have crossed into Turkey since Wednesday, a Turkish government official said. Kurdish forces are trying to drive the militants out of Tel Abyad, in Syria's Hassakah province, close to the Turkish border town of
Read in 

Syria has become the best-marketed commodity in Turkey, where all foreign policy issues are packaged for domestic consumption. Ankara appears, however, to have lost all perception of reality regarding anything to do with Syria, falling victim to Alice in Wonderland syndrome. The government has embarked on a surreal journey in trying to persuade the public that Turkey is winning, not losing, in Syria.

The first week in February, a coalition of the Syrian army, paramilitary forces from Iran, Hezbollah and Russian special forces, all supported by the Russian air force, advanced from east of Aleppo to its north. Hearts skipped a beat in Ankara as Bashar al-Assad’s army laid siege to Aleppo, which had mostly been in rebel hands since 2012, and cut supply routes linking the opposition forces to Turkey. The risk of Kurdish forces moving west of the Euphrates River and reaching Afrin further heightened jitters in Ankara.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.