Erdogan Stumbles on Syria in Visit to US

Article Summary
Many fear that concessions made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the US and Russia will only serve to prolong Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s time in power.

Turkey’s Syria policy is in a deep quagmire. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Washington visit did not produce any positive indications it would be getting out of this quagmire anytime soon.

These are the realities with which Erdogan returned:

  • We can’t achieve anything by marginalizing Russia. Therefore, we have to persuade Russia. This means Russia has gained more than Turkey from Erdogan’s visit.

  • Jabhat al-Nusra is a red line for the United States. But Jabhat al-Nusra is the most effective anti-Assad resistance group. The United States wants Turkey to cease all active and passive support it is giving to this group through the National Intelligence Organization (MIT). The US attitude toward Jabhat al-Nusra actually means weakening the opposition resistance.

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  • Turkish claims of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons were not found sufficiently credible. The United States has proclaimed it does not trust Turkish sources. This is a reaffirmation of Washington’s unwillingness to get involved in Syria.

Thus, Erdogan’s Washington visit strengthened Russia’s hand and boosted Assad’s hopes of survival.

It was important for the US president to stress his wish to see Syria without Assad, but this was nothing new.

Then the question we must ask is this: Turkey did not get international support, but is it at least strong domestically? Sadly, we cannot reply affirmatively to this question. There are many in sensitive Turkish intelligence units who, for a variety of reasons, are closer to Assad than to Erdogan. Many of them have been assigned to posts related to Syria or the Hatay region. Earlier, there were reports that intelligence operatives in Hatay had sold opposition members to Assad. Unfortunately, there are people in important positions who sympathize with Assad. This is how we have to look at the Reyhanli bombings.

Then, let’s ask:  Who supplied the intelligence that “Jabhat al-Nusra is going to hit US institutions in Ankara and has rigged three car bombs at Raqqa for these attacks”? Although it was obvious that the United States was going to raise the issue of Jabhat al-Nusra during Erdogan’s visit, which intelligence outfit further depleted Erdogan’s hand against Obama by leaking this intelligence?

Let’s dwell deeper. The perpetrators of the Reyhanli attacks were being tracked for months. Why were the security units not informed until just 18 hours before the attack, that is, at 8:30 p.m. on May 10? Why was that information concealed? Who concealed that information from whom?

Unless it finds solid answers to these questions and takes appropriate measures, Turkey has no chance against the Assad regime.

Ankara has become a full-fledged capital of intrigue. Nobody cares that Syria is in the middle of a crisis; the country is trouble, the PKK is getting stronger and many youth are heading to the mountains again. The entire struggle in Ankara is about who is going to stab who in the back, and who will get the plum jobs.

The hard fact is this: Ankara is living through political conspiracies resembling the last days of the Ottoman Empire. Wisdom and conscience don’t mean anything in Ankara, where everything is scripted and staged.

On top of all this, the elections calendar is pressing Ankara. The government that conceded everything to the PKK just to have a safe election period is suddenly awakened to Syrian realities by the Reyhanli bombs.

It is under these pressures the government had to agree to everything it had rejected in PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan’s 2009 road map. It is not yet clear if the PKK is really withdrawing. Those heading to the mountains to join the PKK are now at the levels of 1991-92. For example, just last month in Silopi, 25 students left their schools and headed to the mountains. These are only students, there are also others. In Hakkari 75 and in Diyarbakir hundreds of youth have gone up to the mountains. Recruitment of fighters to go to the mountains continues at full speed and the government is under further pressure.

In a nutshell, the period when Erdogan felt he was the strongest and the period in which he was under the most pressure have overlapped.  The institutions that supplied his power shot him in the back at Reyhanli and Raqqa.

Decision-makers in Ankara, driven by their ambitions and animosities, are trying to solve problems with force instead of rational approaches. This leads to mistake after mistake. Those who warn them of their mistakes are branded as enemies.

I think Assad’s chemicals have poisoned Ankara. There is no other way of explaining this nonsense.

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Found in: turkey, security, reyhanli, internationalization of syrian conflict
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