Friday, November 18, 2011
Will Turkey invade Syria?
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu acknowledged Thursday that Turkey is not going to decide by itself on Syria and that it could only have a say -- a stark departure from Turkey's earlier position that Turkey is a primary responsible actor in Syrian affairs. He preferred to leave the leadership role to the Arab League instead and warned against creating an atmosphere where Syrians feel that new political system is imposed thanks to external pressures.
As Western sanctions and the latest Arab League initiative failed, observers turned their face to Turkey, who had cultivated relations from scratch with the Syrian government in the past few years. Left unresolved, however, is whether Turkey has a capability and will to further push ahead to squeeze the noose on the Syrian president.
Turkey, along with other players, is now simply seeking to steadily ratchet up the pressure on a regime that many have already ruled out as a possible survivor.
As to whether these sanctions have strong teeth to bite, the reality is that there are two feasible options on the table that could topple the Assad regime. Either strengthening insurgency will disorder army’s cohesiveness or other nations will rush to help Syrian rebels to bring down the decades-old ruthless autocracy. It is certainly a colossal blunder to expect Syria’s leader to relinquish power by ratcheting up pressure on him and on his cronies.
In the background of the ongoing calls on Turkey to intervene looms the shadow of an uncertain consequences if Turkey or its allies ever start waging such a perilous war. Turkey has become a largely ambitious country, bristling with self-confidence but it has started to realize that its options are limited, capabilities under constraint. It long claimed that Syria is its internal affairs and that whatever is decided over Syria’s fate, nod from Turkey was necessary. But the country has become weary of failed attempts to stop bloodshed in Syria and its appetite for such an engagement has dimmed.
It is now more than clear that Turkey will play a very important role in any possible and impending military intervention in Syria but that is not something Turkey will decide on its own.
Turkey’s increasingly deepening confrontation with Syria writ large lately but it hardly could translate into military intervention. Turkey now needs to discuss possible military operation against Syrian regime with its allies because that is where Syria is heading to. Waiting for sanctions to work will cost more Syrian blood and clock is both ticking against Assad and innocent civilians that are ruthlessly killed in streets.