Friday,20 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013
Friday,20 October, 2017
Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013

Ahram Weekly

Syrian provocation, Turkish restraint

Turkish politicians are becoming increasingly frustrated at the international community’s failure to resolve the Syrian crisis, writes Sayed Abdel-Meguid

Al-Ahram Weekly

In his recent meeting with the executive committee of the Syrian National Council (SNC), Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reiterated his government’s support for the Syrian people. Turkey would remain in contact and consultation with the Syrian people and its representatives in the opposition until the regime led by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad fell, he said.
For their part, the Syrians informed the minister of the latest news they had gleaned from communications with Syria, saying that people’s morale remained very high in spite of the campaign of violence and brutality being waged against them by the regime in Damascus.
However, behind the scenes Turkish officials were far from upbeat, with “frustration” best summing up the current mood in Ankara which has placed much of its stock in the big five in the UN Security Council and a rapid Libya-like solution to the Syrian crisis, only to find that it has lost its bet.
As a result, the Turkish authorities have been left with little option but to gripe, and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has fallen back on its oft-repeated charge that the Security Council has lost its credibility because of the way it has handled the Syrian crisis.
It had shown its feebleness by taking a spectator seat and watching the Syrian people being massacred by the henchman of the ruling Syrian Baath Party, Davutoglu said.
At the 71st meeting of the Turkish-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) a week ago, Davutoglu asked who now represented the world’s conscience. Was it the UN or the obstructive behaviour of certain nations?
What was the Security Council doing in the face of the deaths of 70,000 Syrians and the millions of displaced persons forced to endure harsh winter conditions? If it was not going to intervene now, when would it, he asked.
All Davutoglu’s efforts in the talks he has held in Munich, Cairo and Paris have not succeeded in goading the international community into taking effective action in Syria, and at the JPC meeting the EU did not escape his reproach.
Europe had left Turkey to face the fall-out from the Syrian tragedy alone, Davutoglu said, adding that despite its democratic discourse the EU had yet to deal effectively with what was happening in Syria.
Such harangues have failed to yield the desired results, and Al-Assad has attacked Ankara for what he has described as its blatant attempts to intervene in Syrian domestic affairs in a manner violating the text and spirit of the UN charter, the principles of international law and the conventions governing the relations between nations.
Ankara’s actions constituted a threat to the peace and security of the Middle East, Al-Assad said.
In identical letters sent to the UN Security Council and the secretary-general, the Syrian Foreign Ministry complained of what it termed Turkey’s mounting hostility to Syria, as evinced through its attempts to obstruct the political initiative proposed by Al-Assad and the subsequent steps the government has taken to find a political solution to the crisis.
The letters accused Ankara of pressuring Syrian opposition forces into rejecting the Al-Assad initiative and of allowing Turkish territory to be used for assembling, training, funding, and arming “armed groups”, including Al-Qaeda, Al-Nasra Front and other organisations.
Not only had Turkey allowed such groups to infiltrate Syria from its territory, it had also openly supported their terrorist activities, the letters said.
The complaints fell upon some attentive ears, stirring consternation in Ankara. Contrary to expectations, the protracted conflict in Syria appears to have given Al-Assad fresh impetus, and the regime in Damascus has exploited the recent Israeli assault against a Syrian research centre to the fullest extent possible, according to the Turkish press.
Israel’s attack has triggered renewed anger against the Jewish state as well as mass demonstrations in support of Al-Assad or at least in sympathy with him.
Lebanon has called upon the Arab world to stand in solidarity with Syria, for example, and Iran has seized the opportunity to denounce forces opposed to the Syrian regime, which of course include Turkey.
It was against this background that a car bomb was detonated on the Turkish-Syrian border, killing 14 people and leaving dozens of others injured. Inhabitants of the tense border area, already suffering from cross-border violence, fear that this may be only the beginning of an escalating cycle of violence.
In his response to the blast, which occurred at the Cilvegözy border crossing on the Turkish side of the border in the Reyhanlu district of Hatay province, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the bombing was an act of provocation intended to drag his country into civil conflict.
The question now is the extent to which Ankara will be able to exercise restraint as it sustains the repercussions of the ongoing Syrian crisis, which appears unlikely to abate in the near future.

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