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11 Jan, 2012 06:22

Turkey’s ‘Syrian intervention’ scenario

Turkey has been keenly watching events unfold in Syria, fearing its near-neighbor’s violence could spill over the border. However, there are fears that Turkish government may not be getting an accurate picture of what is really happening in Syria.

As soon as Syria's president promised to completely revamp the constitution in an attempt to resolve the crisis in the country, Turkey expressed support for a humanitarian intervention, saying it must do all it can to prevent a civil war.With the bloody status quo in the Syrian crisis having been maintained for months, there is a danger that violence may start spreading beyond the country’s borders. And its close neighbor Turkey – once a close friend too – is now a harsh critic of Damascus.“Syria's first priority should be to listen to its people and meet their demands, not to denounce others; instead of massacring its people, it should listen to them,” says Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.Faruk Logoglu, the deputy chairman of the Republican People's Party in Turkey, is a harsh critic himself, but he is critical of the Turkish government.Ankara is on the side of the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian National Council – a military and diplomatic force aimed at overthrowing the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It supports a “buffer zone” and a “humanitarian corridor” - which some fear could bring Turkish troops to Syrian soil.“What does that mean according to international law? It means aggression against a country, it means war,” Faruk Logoglu says. But any intervention would be different from the one in Libya – since Russia and China have made it clear: no more no-fly zone resolutions. It means the role of regional players like Turkey increases dramatically. But Faruk claims Ankara’s behavior is irresponsible and risky.“It is the larger implications beyond the bilateral context of Turkey and Syria as such. The situation in Syria must be handled with great care by all powers. And unfortunately I do not see that care, especially from the Turkish government,” he says. Oytun Orhan works for the Middle East Strategic Studies Center, based in Ankara. It is sponsored by the Turkish Foreign Ministry to help shape policy. And its opinion on Syria is clear.“The regime of Syria is killing its own people,” says Oytun Orhan, Middle East analyst the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM). Or not always that clear.“Nobody has objective information as to what is going on in Syria,” says Oytun Orhan. The center’s specialists have not been to Syria for over a year. It means the picture they paint for officials in Ankara is unlikely to be an accurate one.The sources of some videos are often questionable, so it is easy to be misled or get a false picture of what is really happening. Although that does not stop researchers from coming to firm conclusions.“The military option, this is the last option Turkey does not want to see. But this is an option,” says Oytun Orhan.Turkey may have declared it does not welcome a military solution to the Syrian crisis, but it has not ruled it out either, playing an “if” game: if there is massive migration from its troubled neighbor Turkey says it will have to protect its own people. And while officially Ankara insists it wants peace and stability in the region, its troops are ready just kilometers from the border with Syria.