Turkey unlikely to invade Syria despite the saber rattling

Even as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pushed a bill through parliament on Thursday authorizing his armed forces to conduct operations across the border in Syria, both countries played down the possibility of a war that could oblige NATO to Turkey’s aid.

“The bill is not for war,” said Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay, after opposition lawmakers branded the proposal a “war bill.” Instead, he insisted, its purpose was “deterrence,” following a mortar attack from Syrian soil on Wednesday that killed five people in the Turkish border town of Akcakale.

The measure is valid for a year and gives the government power to launch an attack without first seeking parliamentary approval. Turkish forces have shelled Syrian positions over the past two days and, according to Syrian opposition groups, that barrage has killed “several” Syrian troops.

Despite the saber rattling, however, indications are that the Turkish side will be careful to avoid serious escalation, as will Syria. Atalay took care to point out to his domestic audience that “the Syrian side has admitted what it did and apologized” through U.N. mediators.

“There is an ever-widening gulf between what Turkey says and what it can actually do,” says Soli Ozel, an international-relations professor at Kadir Has University. “The bill was designed to let off steam for Erdogan, who has put himself in a spot from which he cannot climb down.”

Once a close friend of President Bashar Assad — their families even vacationed together — Erdogan became one of the Syrian regime’s most vocal critics shortly after the uprising began. Turkey regularly hosts members of the Syrian opposition and houses some 100,000 Syrian refugees in camps in the southeast. It also provides sanctuary to the leadership of the Free Syrian Army, an insurgent group led by mutineers from Assad’s army. But Ankara’s oft-repeated call for a Western-led military operation to establish no-fly zones and protected enclaves on the ground in the northern Syrian border has met little support from its NATO allies. And while the U.S. was quick to condemn Wednesday’s attack by Syria, it remains preoccupied with its presidential election and even beyond November is unlikely to develop any appetite for new military involvement in the Middle East.

A solo military intervention in Syria by Turkey remains unlikely for a number of reasons ranging from the capabilities of the Turkish armed forces to the problem of an endgame, with the high risk that such an intervention draws Turkey into a second open-ended insurgency besides the one it already faces within its Kurdish population — and from the emerging autonomous Kurdish enclave in Syria. Turkey also depends on Syrian allies Russia and Iran for its natural-gas supplies and is unlikely to risk incurring their wrath. And Erdogan, who was re-elected with more than 50% of the vote last year, is also in a tight spot at home where polls show that only about 18% of Turks support his policy on Syria.

“We’ve reached a critical point,” wrote columnist Melih Asik in the centrist paper Milliyet. “We’re not only up against Syria, but also Iran, Iraq, Russia and China, which support Damascus. Behind us, there is nothing but the provocative attitudes and empty promises of the United States.”

NATO ambassadors met late on Wednesday, issuing a statement condemning the attack and demanding the immediate end of “aggressive acts against an ally.” The 28-nation group said the attacks presented “a clear and present danger” to the security of one of its allies. But there was no further intimation of retaliation.

Thursday’s attack was not Syria’s first cross-border violation, but the deaths of five civilians — two women and three children — had raised tensions to a boiling point. Turkey responded with retaliatory fire, and the two countries have since been tit-for-tat shelling.

“The negative impact of the ongoing crisis in Syria on our national security is more and more visible,” Erdogan said in the bill he submitted to parliament. “The aggressive actions targeting our national lands are at the threshold of armed attacks … For that reason, it has become necessary to take precautions in a timely and quick manner against additional risks and threats facing our country.”

Last July, Syria had downed a Turkish fighter jet that Ankara said was on a training flight in international airspace, killing its two pilots. Turkey subsequently reinforced its border with antiaircraft missiles and threatened to target any approaching Syrian military elements.

“What’s happening with Syria,” says Ozel, “is just another installment in the bankruptcy of Turkey’s foreign policy.” Before the Arab Spring, Turkey had made improving its relationship with Syria a centerpiece of its new regional foreign policy dubbed “zero problems with neighbors.” Ankara hoped to become a regional power broker, expanding its influence in the former Ottoman provinces that span much of the contemporary Middle East. But limits of that policy became clear when the Syrian uprising began, and Erdogan threw his weight behind the effort to topple Assad. That in turn has cooled ties with Russia and, together with Turkey’s interventions in Iraqi politics, also exacerbated tensions with both Baghdad and Tehran.

Many Turks believe the upsurge in attacks by the Kurdish separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party insurgents in Turkey’s southeast reflects Assad’s response to Turkey’s support for his overthrow, as well as fear that escalating hostilities could hurt the country’s economy and drag it into a regional conflict it will be unable to control.

In explaining Thursday’s vote, Atalay said Turkey’s “main priority” remained to “act together with the international community.” That in itself suggests Turkey is not about to go to war in Syria.

world.time.com

  • wargame1

    Turkey can send arms to Syrian resistance . Some stinger missile can be good provided they have some of them. IED is sufficient to grill the Rats of Bashar. IED is the most effective weapon in a guerrilla warfare. In order to save civilian casualties some stinger missile can force the Rat to come down for ground war. Well with or without the anti aircraft missile the mujaheddin will be doing good and Bashar Al Rat will have to buy more weapons from Iran and Russia. 

    The war might go on another 5 years but in the mean time Bashar will be loosing bit by bit. From some source of information it is presumed that Bashar Al Rat is in Golan Height at the moment under Israeli protection. 

    • 3AlawiMinHouran

      walak shou hal hmar inta; al3afou min al hmar

    • Btru2u

      good comment wargame. why do the shia and alawi still cling to these pathetic exuses ,that all this mayhem was cause by  a few infiltrating terrorists. No people this was caused by the greed for power by the rat and Iran leadership.  if the people dont wake up to the truth they too will be swept up in the dustbins of history. Do something great brothers and sisters and  do what is right.

  • wargame1

    Turkey can send arms to Syrian resistance . Some stinger missile can be good provided they have some of them. IED is sufficient to grill the Rats of Bashar. IED is the most effective weapon in a guerrilla warfare. In order to save civilian casualties some stinger missile can force the Rat to come down for ground war. Well with or without the anti aircraft missile the mujaheddin will be doing good and Bashar Al Rat will have to buy more weapons from Iran and Russia. 

    The war might go on another 5 years but in the mean time Bashar will be loosing bit by bit. From some source of information it is presumed that Bashar Al Rat is in Golan Height at the moment under Israeli protection. 

    • 3AlawiMinHouran

      walak shou hal hmar inta; al3afou min al hmar

    • Btru2u

      good comment wargame. why do the shia and alawi still cling to these pathetic exuses ,that all this mayhem was cause by  a few infiltrating terrorists. No people this was caused by the greed for power by the rat and Iran leadership.  if the people dont wake up to the truth they too will be swept up in the dustbins of history. Do something great brothers and sisters and  do what is right.

  • Btru2u

    Turkey should not wait for the permission of its kuffar allies to protect its brothers and sisters in islam.  If Turkey wants to live,then it must go to war with its brothers and sisters against its enemies. This is a real test of character . If the politicians dont step up , the Generals must, otherwise they will thrown unto the dustbin of history.SURAH8;24 ” Give your response to Allah and his Messenger, when he Calleth you to that which gives you life; and know that Allah comes between man and his heart, and it is He to whom ye shall (all) be gathered. “

    • $31060015

      Really good. preaching the word of Allah when at same time preaching the word of war. And you wonder why people despise Islam. How can you associate war with Allah. This belief wouldn’t happen to be taught to you by the same idiots that teach Wargame. As for Turkey getting permission of its Kuffar allies, They are one in the same. Actually Turkey is worse. A so called Muslim country who have their head right up the Zionist asses.

    • 3AlawiMinHouran

      the sunna are the only kouufar; you do not worship God you worship a black stone in mekka which is nothing but a female’s sexual organ; oopps i forgot the moon; al hilal

      • Mahdi Kenaani

        sunnis are NOT kaffir!! 

  • Btru2u

    Turkey should not wait for the permission of its kuffar allies to protect its brothers and sisters in islam.  If Turkey wants to live,then it must go to war with its brothers and sisters against its enemies. This is a real test of character . If the politicians dont step up , the Generals must, otherwise they will thrown unto the dustbin of history.SURAH8;24 ” Give your response to Allah and his Messenger, when he Calleth you to that which gives you life; and know that Allah comes between man and his heart, and it is He to whom ye shall (all) be gathered. “

    • AntiFSA

      Really good. preaching the word of Allah when at same time preaching the word of war. And you wonder why people despise Islam. How can you associate war with Allah. This belief wouldn’t happen to be taught to you by the same idiots that teach Wargame. As for Turkey getting permission of its Kuffar allies, They are one in the same. Actually Turkey is worse. A so called Muslim country who have their head right up the Zionist asses.

    • 3AlawiMinHouran

      the sunna are the only kouufar; you do not worship God you worship a black stone in mekka which is nothing but a female’s sexual organ; oopps i forgot the moon; al hilal

      • Mahdi Kenaani

        sunnis are NOT kaffir!!