Κυριακή, 1 Σεπτεμβρίου 2013

Turkey's Mixed Messages on Syria

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) in Aleppo, Syria on February 6, 2011. (Reuters)
ISTANBUL—In Istanbul’s religiously conservative Fatih neighborhood, the four-fingered yellow Rabia signs supporting Egypt’s pro-Morsi protest movement are ubiquitous, as residents unabashedly identify with the Muslim Brotherhood’s struggle against Egypt’s armed forces. But there is no sign of support for the impending Western military conflict with Syria. Given the devastating loss of life experienced by Syria’s Muslims, the silence punctuates increasingly mixed feelings in this country about an intervention that Ankara has long advocated.
Turkey, long hailed as one of America’s most important regional allies, has shifted from a vociferous advocate of intervention to an ambivalent player in the looming conflict as military action draws closer. This underscores the country’s domestic political constraints, as well as strains in the alliance between Washington and Ankara that have long been simmering just beneath the surface.
In many ways, Ankara has been the subcontractor of America’s Syria policy, owing mostly to its geographic location. But Turkey did not need America’s prompting, given the direct impact Syrian violence has had on the stability of its eastern flank, as well as concerns about Kurdish nationalism in Syria. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also used the Syria issue as a rallying cry in the Islamic and Arab world, decrying American and Western reticence to act as the death toll climbed to over one hundred thousand.

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