War with Syria would be great mistake for Turkey

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-10-9 16:38:46

Turkey and Syria move closer than ever to the verge of war after Syria's latest mortar shelling killed five Turkish civilians.

The Turkey Parliament has authorized a war mandate last week, enabling further cross-border military action against Syria.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked about the war twice within a week, saying that Turkey was not far away from war and called on his people to be prepared.

Turkey and Syria have been exchanging cross-border artillery fire for almost a week. In this sense, Turkey has already started fighting.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last Saturday that conflict between Turkey and Syria may escalate and spread to neighboring countries.

However, many Turkish analysts worry that it would be great mistake for Turkey to get involved in a war with Syria, which could bring serious consequences to this country.

"If Turkey starts war with Syria, it would be detrimental for both countries. Turkey's social stability, economic development and democratization process would all be badly affected," Aykan Erdemir, a Turkish MP from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), told Xinhua.

"Moreover, a war between Turkey and Syria would split riots to neighboring countries in this region, dragging the sectarian and war-torn Middle East into a greater chaos," Erdemir added.

"We don't want a war with Syria, it would only bring more casualties for both countries," said Ibrahim Kalin, the chief advisor of Prime Minister Erdogan. "As to the next step, Turkey would continue calling for the establishment of buffer zone with international consensus."

Tension between Turkey and Syria has already resulted in significant damage to Turkish exports to neighboring countries such as Iran and Iraq.

A full-scale war with Syria would mean greater economic cost by rising military expenditures, according to Prof. Seyfettin Gursel, director of Center for Economic and Social Research of Turkey's Bahcesehir University.

Turkey desperately needs to develop trade with its energy-rich neighbors at a time when economic ties with European countries worsened due to the EU financial crisis.

Not many Turks want to see Turkey at full-scale war with Syria, not even within Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party ( AKP).

According to the latest poll in Turkey, 76 percent of the people oppose to Turkey's unilateral intervention in the Syrian conflict. Only 17 percent support a Turkish military action against the Assad regime.

Turkey's Syria policy proves to be a complete fiasco, said Emre Uslu, a prominent political analyst and superintendent of Turkey. Turkey lacks reliable and correct intelligence about Syria which has caused wrong calculations of Assad's fall, failed prediction of Kurdish state establishment in north Syria and exaggerated expectation of Syrian oppositions, Uslu said.

Uslu argued that the false intelligence and short-sighted analysis were the most detrimental in Turkey's Syrian policy. " Given this lack of foresight and vision, Ankara must avoid waging a war."

At the beginning of Syrian crisis, Turkey assumed that just like Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi, Assad wouldn't last long.

Both Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Assad would soon go away.

However, the Syrian civil war has lasted for more than 19 months now, bring Turkey nearly 100,000 Syrian refugees and growing national security risk.

Attacks from militants of Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) are on rise since Turkey and Syria relations deteriorated. PKK, a terrorist organization listed by Turkish government, has established a Kurdish state in northern Syria.

Turkish authorities accuse Syrian government of allowing PKK to operate inside of Syria and supporting Kurdish militants to harm Turkey.

"The Syrian crisis has reignited the hope among the Kurds who are divided between Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran that something positive, such as their own state or at least greater autonomy, could come out of all the turmoil," Amanda Paul, policy analyst from European Policy Center pointed out.

PKK has always been a national security threat for Turkey. A number of Turkish civilians has been killed in PKK attacks and more than 400 billion US dollars has been spent to fight PKK terrorists since 1984, according to the latest estimation by Minister of Labor and Social Security Faruk Celik.

Turkish government overestimated the power of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and failed to see the Syrian oppositions couldn't unite due to the same weak strategic analysis, according to Uslu.

His opinion was shared by Erdemir from another perspective. " Another problem is Turkish government only supports a narrow segment of the oppositions. It is close to Syria's Muslim Brotherhood, which is from the same Sunni Islam background with AKP, while neglecting the other communities such as Christian, Jewish and secular groups in Syrian society," Erdemir said.

"This policy would deepen the sectarian divide within Syria," Erdemir added. Many analysts also doubt the ability of oppositions to form a united and stable Syria after the fall of Assad.

Posted in: Mid-East

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