Skip to main content

Turkey's response to US-led Syria strikes: Not enough but welcomed

Immediate Turkish official reactions to the US-led airstrikes in Syria differ significantly from the public’s perceptions: While most Turks are skeptical of Western bombing of a Muslim nation, Erdogan fans afflicted by "Assad-phobia" cheered.
A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer and crew, being deployed to launch strike as part of the multinational response to Syria's use of chemical weapons, is seen in this image released from Al Udeid Air Base, Doha, Qatar on April 14, 2018. U.S. Air Force/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY - RC1FB58E8DC0

The United States and its allies Britain and France launched a much-anticipated strike in Syria around 4 a.m. local time April 14. Despite the late hour, Ankara was wide awake. Senior government officials watched US President Donald Trump's remarks live (which were made the night of April 13 US time). While his statement was somewhat vague, from Ankara's perspective Trump was clear on two issues: Britain and France are allies, and Syria, Iran and Russia are foes.

Turkey’s Syria policy can hardly be called consistent except for one goal: overthrowing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Officials in Ankara compete over bragging rights for who has greater disdain for the Assad regime. They were pleased to hear Trump call Assad "a monster" and make reference to a "very terrible regime."

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 for annual access.