Despite Escalating Syrian Crisis, Turkey's Position Is Unchanged

Article Summary
What now? This is the question being repeated in Ankara now that the Kofi Annan plan seems to have failed and Syrian fire across the Turkish border is escalating the situation, writes Muharrem Sarikaya. However, relevant Turkish officials all claim that Turkey will not take part in any intervention force, or allow one to enter Syria through Turkey. 

Two weeks ago, Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru said precisely this: "I don’t expect any results from the UN initiative. I am afraid the Damascus regime will open fire on those seeking refuge in Turkey.” This is indeed what has happened, and how things will remain from now on.

The real question is: What about the day after? Those concerned with the issue in Ankara say that it will be impossible to implement a plan that calls for a total ceasefire. Ankara is worried about how to cope with further escalation but is unable to come up with firm ideas to prevent this from happening. The emphasis seems to be on devising an international resolution mechanism supported by the UN Security Council. Whether this will take the shape of a humanitarian assistance corridor or a direct intervention over the Mediterranean — as happened in Libya — is anybody’s guess.

Most observers do not believe that the current methods of persuasion being levelled against Damascus will be able to bring about a resolution in less than two years' time.

Turkey? Never

I asked the relevant officials: “In the case of an intervention, will Turkey take part in the operational force?”

Their response was a resounding “No.”

Their reaction to an operation being conducted through Turkey by outside powers was no different, namely: “Remember, we did not allow foreign forces to enter Iraq via Turkey. We didn’t  take part in the Afghanistan force, and this case will be no different. We don’t want Turkey to be the entry point.”

Although these opinions are anecdotal and the final decision will be made by parliament, this is representative of the general mood in Ankara. That mood is: “Our attitude must not be any different from what it was in Iraq and Afghanistan.””

No to the buffer zone as well

These officials firmly reject the buffer zone idea so currently fashionable. They note that such a solution was implemented in the past with the consent of Baghdad. For Turkey to enter a neighboring country without its consent means “occupation.” On the other hand, Turkey will respond in the case of an intervention, or if fire is opened from the other side of the border.

Found in: intervention, humanitarian corridors

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