Saturday, November 19, 2011

Turkey eventually gets it right on Syria

In the harsh judgment of Turkish foreign policy, I yesterday blasted Turkish diplomats over overlooking a possibility that Turkey may consider military action in Syria once the current tensions escalate into a potentially devastating phase.
Turkish diplomats told a group of journalists that Turkey could consider a buffer zone in case there is huge influx of Syrian refugees fleeing violence in Syria and pour into Turkey. They also said Turkey could participate even in military intervention yet only with international community and under United Nations mandate. 
Turkey also now rightly considers that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will go and all its Syria strategies are based on this assumption. Turkey was reluctant to cut ties with Damascus  until August and did not seek ways to get rid of Assad as of last week. Pro-Assad protesters stormed Turkish diplomatic missions and more importantly, Turkish flag was burned -- something that steered this process reasonably well and provided a major impetus for this development.
Building friendships based on personal attachments and trust is the main reason that makes decision-makers act late and make their judgments mostly flawed. In my previous post, I urged Turkish leadership to forsake policies that are aimed at increasing pressure on Assad and instead hold consultations with its partners on how to effectively deal with the situation in case military intervention comes into play. The reason why everyone -- NATO, Western nations and Turkey -- is ruling out Libya-style military intervention in Syria is because they think they are going to decide on this. Turkey and its partners will not decide to start a war with Syria; they will more likely be drawn into. The most you can say is that there are scattered signs that things are getting there slowly. This is the reason why nations must talk how to invade Syria rather than ratchet up pressure in the hope that Assad will feel the heat of sanctions and eventually relinquish power.  
Aaron David Miller discusses in some detail in his latest New York Times op-ed why states must not attack Syria. He said the scale of risk in any intervention in Syria is altogether of a different and greater magnitude, as are the consequences of getting mired into that Arab country. He warned that military intervention in Syria could trigger a conflict of catastrophic proportions and in the shadow of war and violence, everything could spin out of control in the region.
What he didn’t yet fully comprehend was that the overall discussion of military intervention in Syria is not something nations want to do; it is a development that seems will be realized.
It is everyone's wish that Assad will soon step down to save his nation from another war but his insistence to stay on power no doubt will make military intervention more likely. And states must focus more on military strategies during possible military operation in Syria not on ineffective sanctions. 

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