THE U.S. –TURKEY COOPERATION IN BRINGING DOWN ASSAD: CHALLENGES AND POSSIBLE SCENARIOS

BURHAN GURDOGAN

 DIMPOOL ANALYSIS TEAM

[wpcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=””]

Background

The U.S. is trying to obtain Turkey’s support in order to bring down Assad, and although the Turkish side, especially Foreign Minister Davutoglu, supports strengthening this partnership, there are some major obstacles that might cause a shift in Turkey’s attitude toward cooperation with the U.S. They are:

1-    War game scenarios between Brookings AEI and Institute for the Study of War

According to a simulation that was prepared two months ago, the Institute foresaw the bombing in Gaziantep that caused 9 deaths and injured 69. -According to reliable sources such as local doctors, too many people were heavily injured in the blast, meaning that the death toll will rise.-

In most cases, Turkish people are very fond of conspiracy theories, and after the leaked brainstorming ideas in the mentioned meeting Kemalists and Ultra-Nationalists started to believe and propagandize that the U.S. supported those attacks in order to draw Turkey into the Syrian War.

Two newspapers have openly expressed these views, and one of them is the Kemalist Sozcu newspaper with a 288.802 sale rate, the fifth biggest newspaper in Turkey. The other one is Aydınlık, which has a significant audience yet does not have a high sales rate around 52.865.

Therefore, with the publications of these newspapers and news stories, a considerable percentage of the public does not want any partnership with the U.S.as regarding Syria.

2-    Refugees’ situation in Hatay province and other areas of Turkey

Refugee camp in Hatay province
Refugee camp in Hatay province

At the beginning of the war, when Turkey accepted refugees from Syria most of the public supported that decision and even personally helped out. However, while the refugee number is increasing, especially in the Hatay province, refugees began to harass local people and commit crimes. On August 28, 2012, Haberturk newspaper published a story about the area, stating that refugees are threatening Alevi local people in the province, do not pay for anything they buy or eat, and that hospitals and ambulances serve refugees more than Turkish people.

The effect of the refugee crisis is that Turkish people in the refugee areas do not want any kind of intervention, as they are afraid if it happens their city will be full of Syrian refugees, and as a result they do not support any kind of cooperation that might lead to war in the area.

3-    AKP’s mixed and collapsed foreign policy

In the beginning of his administration, Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu was being compared with Henry Kissinger, in fact according to some people he had been defined as Turkey’s Kissinger. If we look at Kissinger’s past actions, we will see that he followed a very aggressive and realist way to reach his goals. He did not hesitate to instigate military coups or wars in order to prevent threats against his country. Unlike Kissinger, Davutoglu showed a soft and idealist approach called as Neo-Ottomanism, in order to solve Turkey’s problems and especially his “Zero Problem with Neighbors” idea become nearly impossible to achieve. Specifically alienating Israel, Azerbaijan, Iran and Iraq’s regional government damaged Turkey’s interests heavily.

[/wpcol_1half] [wpcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

It is obvious that the AKP has used and will continue using foreign policy as a tool for domestic politics. This is especially true after PM Erdogan’s Davos incident, when the party saw their votes go up more than 5% in the local elections.

Last month the AKP announced that it thinks of moving local elections to an earlier date; therefore the AKP knows that its decision will affect votes in the upcoming elections.

FM Davutoglu already lost his credibility with the Turkish public and even AKP sympathizers state that he acted too quickly in the Syria situation. Davutoglu was the first foreign minister who stated that Assad has to go. As Assad supports PKK, the public criticizes Davutoglu more and more.

The situation looks nearly same as the second Iraq War and at that time Turkey promised to support the U.S. and Parliament voted against it.

On March 1, 2003, the AKP government submitted the motion that would prevent the U.S. troops from staging a war on Iraq from Turkish soil and it wanted its deputies to vote for it. However, at the voting stage all of the opposition’s party deputies and one-third of the AKP deputies voted against the motion.

4-    In Turkey, opposition forces started to look more antipathetic than the Assad government

Even though the Assad administration committed so many massacres, none of them were as effective as the killings and tortures of the Free Syrian Army. When the government in Syria bombs a place and kills people, the public can only read about it in newspapers and see edited versions of wounded or dead bodies.

On the other hand, the most viewed videos regarding Syria are the ones where the Free Syrian Army throws people out of the balcony on the sixth floor and cuts peoples’ heads off.

Therefore, these incidents made people think that, if they seize power, it will be much worse than the Assad administration.

Conclusions

Scenario 1

In a short time period (3-4 weeks), the majority of the Turkish public will be completely against Turkey’s involvement in bringing down Assad. In addition, events show that the AKP would not want to take that risk while the election date is nearing so PM Erdogan would most likely to neutralize FM Davutoglu and stay out of open conflict.

Scenario 2

The AKP supports the U.S. administration until the last moment but when it comes to taking actual action against the administration, the Parliament changes its decision and makes a big fuss about it in order to win the public support by saying that “The AKP saved Turkey from a messy war”.

Scenario 3

One of the most crucial outcomes of not being part of the Second Gulf War for Turkey was the re-emergence of the PKK. Due to the lack of authority in Northern Iraq, the PKK militiants settled in the region and began to attack Turkish military targets, running away to the other side of the borders afterward and preventing the Turkish military from chasing them. If Turkey had passed the motion, the U.S. troops would have been deployed in the southeast region in Turkey, so in one respect they would have built a buffer zone between Turkey and Northern Iraq, and the PKK attacks would have eventually diaasapeared since the U.S. troops would have had the right to chase them into Iraq.

In the Syria case, the situation is reversed, there fore the cooperation between the AKP and the U.S. causes the PKK to gain strength with the help of Assad Administration.

As a result, the AKP would consider cooperating with the U.S. only in the diplomatic arena while secretly continuing to support opposition in Syria, but even this cooperation would end if the PKK attacks keep happening.

[/wpcol_1half_end]

Tags from the story
, ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

BURHAN GURDOGAN
The U.S. is trying to obtain Turkey’s support in order to bring down Assad, and although the Turkish side, especially Foreign Minister Davutoglu, supports strengthening this partnership, there are some major obstacles that might cause a shift in Turkey’s attitude toward cooperation with the U.S." />