Saturday, February 27, 2016

Turkey needs to readjust Syria policy to avoid further damage

Turkey's policies concerning Syria have eroded the country's international position more than any other factor due to their encouragement of radical jihadists in the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, stirring up of sectarian conflicts and mismanagement of relations with the Syrian Kurds and simultaneously damaging its relations with Russia, the US and the EU.

Leaving its traditional allies aside, Turkey has gotten closer with Saudi Arabia and there are talks about a possible military intervention into Syria with Riyadh to protect their interests. Such a dangerous military intervention may have even more serious consequences for Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as for the region.

The “cessation of hostilities” agreement on Syria, effective as of Feb. 27, may be a chance for Turkey to alter a foreign policy that has dragged the country into a serious risk of war with regional actors, leading to lost friends and allies, a major refugee influx and an increased threat from terrorism. However, some analysts argue that Turkey's foreign policy in Syria may be past the point of no return.

Theodore Karasik, a senior advisor at Dubai-based Gulf State Analytics, has told Sunday's Zaman that Turkey needs to “stop playing games” in Syria and “be serious.”

“Ankara has been negligent across the board when dealing with the multi-level war to the country's south by enabling extremists without thinking through the policy ramifications as well as taunting the US and Europe by putting preconditions on access to Turkey for any spectrum of operations from the country,” Karasik said.

  • Criticizing Ankara for threatening Europe with more migrants, Karasik said this kind of behavior is “counterproductive.” Karasik expects that “Kurds of all stripes” are going to be a determining factor in the future of Syria and Assad is not leaving his post anytime soon.

“Turkey needs to look in the mirror and ask whether Ankara's policies are sustainable or whether all will blowback. The country could divide geographically and on various political and religious interests. Daesh [an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and Kurdish extremists are making themselves heard. A military coup is not impossible. Overall, one Turkish toe in Syria is not recommended at this time. The situation is potentially explosive,” Karasik warned...........

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