Category Archives: Syrian Crisis

Turkey’s Worst Nightmare

Turkey’s worst insecurity, and thus nightmare, is nothing else but its territorial dismemberment and therefore anything that has to do with Kurdish autonomy regionally or nationally. As the situation in Syria is getting worse, Assad is focusing on securing Damascus and his own self and family, thus leaving the forces of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in charge. The PYD is said to be linked to and have similar goals with the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has been fighting against the Turkish state for Kurdish autonomy since the early 80s. The fact that Kurdish flags in northern Syria and on border checkpoints with Turkey are becoming more and more can only be alarming for Turkey that is experiencing a déjà vu.

The first negative development for Turkey came with the gradual emergence of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq. Ankara watched its establishment and solidification, during the two Iraq wars, without being able to do something while the Kurdish issue was one of the reasons the Turkish-American relations entered a period of decline, with the 2003 Iraq war notably being the starting point.

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The Perfect Alibi? – Syria & Turkey in Crisis

It has been reported that a Turkish fighter jet was shot down on Friday, June 23, 2012, by Syrian forces. The Syrian military forces had later confirmed the reports. Leaving aside the technical details about how the crash occurred, and who is to blame, this incident could significantly escalate the existing crisis between the two countries on the one hand, and offer the perfect alibi, as well as credibility, to Turkey and its western allies – namely, NATO – to actively and militarily intervene in Syria, on the other.
Importantly enough, the Turkish President, Abdullah Gul, said that Turkey will do “whatever necessary”. But what does “whatever necessary” means? In answering this question, one must take into account earlier reports saying that CIA officers have been helping Syrian rebels through Southern Turkey. Even though the Turkish government rejected this information, it raises concerns about the role of Turkey and other external actors in the Syrian conflict, as well as the near-future intentions of westerns powers. Furthermore, let us not forget that the Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, in April, 2012, threatened to invoke NATO’s self-defense article 5.

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The Thoughtlessness of the Intervention Advocates – Syria

The horror taking place in Syria is not to be questioned. The way it is utilized by western media, is. The moral need to do something about Syria is not to be questioned. The way morale is utilized for political reasons, is. The fact that Assad must go is not to be questioned. It is the “how” that needs to be discussed and the western-style intervention – which has become a habit – that needs to be questioned. The thoughtlessness of the intervention advocates, with regard to the case of Syria specifically, is unbearable.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been bombarded with “Responsibility to Protect” rhetoric; we’ve been reminded of the (U.S.) need to intervene in Syria to weaken Iran, as well as Hezbollah and Hamas; we’ve been told of all the positive effects a new Syrian regime would have for the region; we’ve been pointed out how useful regional countries (e.g. Turkey) would be in a potential intervention; how Russia would care, but not so much as to cause problems, and so on. It is as if everyone stopped thinking rationally and stopped weighing the costs and benefits. To be honest though, depending on one’s perspective of the situation, the costs and benefits could be entirely different. What would be the objective of an intervention, really? Would it be Iran? Would it be Hamas and Hezbollah? Would it be the Russian interests in the Middle East? Would it be the protection of the Syrian people under the “Responsibility to Protect” umbrella? Or is the “Responsibility to Protect” just the moral cover-up – and the ultimate immoral means – for the achievement of all previous, and more, objectives? I would vote for the latter. In any case, an intervention – if it were to take place – should be about the people. But the fact is that there is no scenario in which the Syrian people – or the region, for that matter – would benefit from an intervention. There are at least five main reasons for that, briefly presented below, which are linked to the simplifications put forward by the intervention advocates.

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The ‘Arab Spring’ and the Kurds of Syria

– The ‘Arab Spring’, has not only influenced Arab peoples but other groups as well. –

The wave of uprisings that has been sweeping the greater region of the Middle East is first and foremost a wave of hope, ambition, and inspiration. This wave has also touched the Kurds. To be sure, the most important issue with regard to the Kurds which has arisen in the midst of the Arab Spring, relates to the case of Syria, and, by extension, to Turkey. What are the ambitions and limitations of the Kurdish minority opposition in Syria?

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The Struggle Over Syria

It is unquestionable that the crisis in Syria is getting worse by the minute. Thousands of people have been killed, hundreds of thousands have fled their homes, and Turkey hosts almost 20,000 refugees. While the account is tragic and discouraging already, the Assad regime does not stop shelling his own country’s cities and killing his own people. In this climate, the international community – if there is such a coherent thing – is trying to manage the crisis. It is true that for most of the international actors involved, what is going on in Syria is unfortunate and they would frankly rather not to be dealing with it.

It is obvious that Russia and China for example do not want another US puppet-state in the Middle East after Assad, while Iran is at the brink of losing perhaps its most valuable regional ally. Israel, more than the US, sees the crisis as an opportunity to weaken Iran’s regional power, while the US, although it wants Assad gone, is more cautious and reluctant to get drawn into another endless war that might involve Iran, especially during an election period. Turkey, on the other hand, after almost 13 years of increasingly good relations with Syria, since the 1998 crisis and the Öcalan case, is really unhappy that it has to return to the same old insecurity about its territorial integrity and the fear that Syria might support the secessionist PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party); let alone the fragile diplomatic balance that it wants to maintain between the US and Iran.

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