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Turkey’s Role in Syria’s Unfolding Crisis


Under Prime Minister Erdogan, Turkey became directly involved in the Syrian crisis as his support for the Muslim Brotherhood brought an ideological context to Turkey’s hostile stance against Assad’s government.

At the beginning of 2011, continuing protests against Assad finally led to the end of the 48-year state of emergency in Syria and an amnesty for political prisoners, not without US and EU pressure. But several months later a well-known US whistleblower Sibel Edmonds claimed that the US and Turkey have been giving logistic aid and military training to the Syrian armed opposition since “April-May 2011”. Edmonds even declared that the US Air Force base in İncirlik (Turkey) was used as a training facility for the so-called Free Syrian Army and other opponents of the Damascus regime – in her own words, “the dissident base in Syria.”

In June 2011, the Assad government declared that 120 members of its security forces were killed by “armed gangs” in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour, located about 16 kilometers from Turkey’s Hatay region. Assad’s troops laid siege to the town and more than 10,000 people subsequently fled to Turkey.
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Washington Casts Blame for Expansion of Al-Qaeda on Turkey

Erdogan Obama

It is no longer possible to conceal the obvious. The West, in its attempts to remove Bashar al-Asad from power during the years of the war in Syria, has nurtured a force so sinister that its tentacles are now reaching to the Western capitals themselves. Al-Qaed is at the peak of its influence in the Middle East. In Somalia, the group al-Shabaab has announced its complete merger with this organization.
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Is Turkey on the Cusp of Rethink on Syria?


Through the past two-year period of turmoil in Syria, President Bashar Al-Assad has shown himself to be a master tactician who consistently outmaneuvered his regional adversaries. Syria has a tough neighborhood. Al-Assad’s regional adversaries are formidable people in their own ways. But he invariably pre-empted them, staying one step ahead of them, repeatedly forcing them onto the back foot and throwing into disarray their best-laid plots. 

That’s what makes his latest interview last week with the Turkish television channel Halk rather significant. Al-Assad came down very hard on Turkey’s Syria policies and on Prime Minister Recep Erdogan personally. He warned Ankara of a blowback of terrorism that it has been promoting in Syria – “In the near future these terrorists will have an impact on Turkey. Turkey will pay very dearly…” 

"All that he [Erdogan] says about Syria and its people is a heap of lies, that is all ... Erdoğan is doing nothing but supporting the terrorists," said al-Assad.
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The Dragon Enters NATO's Orchard

FD 2000 Air Defense

What a tumultuous week it has been. It began with United States president Barack Obama’s speech in the UN General Assembly last Monday signaling that the era of American dominance of the Middle East is ending. But the signal is already being acted upon before the week ended.

That is what the stunning announcement in Ankara on Thursday signifies – over the decision by the Turkish government led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to select a Chinese defence firm, China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp [CPMIEC], for a $3 billion contract to co-produce a long-range air and missile defence system for the country… 

From a long term perspective it is a close call to decide which is going to be more fateful – the American-Iranian thaw that Obama visualized in his UN speech and kick-started immediately thereafter, or the appearance of a Chinese company that is allied to the People’s Liberation Army to undertake the highly sensitive task of building a missile defence ensemble for a country on Europe’s doorstep that also happens to be a key member country of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO].
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The Kurdish Spring in Turkey’s Backyard

photo: ~ Magne

The blowback of Turkey’s covert operations aimed at destabilizing the Syrian regime has begun surging. The spectre of an independent Kurdish entity on its Syrian border has come to haunt Turkey.

The challenge posed by the “Kurdish Spring” in northern Syria is of an existential character, but, ironically, the powers from far and near who encouraged Turkey to destabilize Syria are nowhere to be seen – incapable or unwilling to get involved in what could turn out to be a regional maelstrom.

An even bigger irony is that Turkey’s best allies in the region in the struggle against Kurdish separatism have traditionally been – and still could be – Iran, Iraq and Syria – but Ankara is no longer on friendly terms with any of them and the prospects of reconciliation seem a remote possibility at the moment.

Meanwhile, the military coup in Egypt has found Turkey badly isolated in its region. The regional axis involving Turkey, Qatar and Egypt has overnight disintegrated and key Arab states view with disfavor the Turkish leadership’s affinities with the Muslim Brotherhood.
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The Uprising Against Brother Erdogan

Turkey Night

The Turkish uprising is rooted in the inconsistencies of the Erdogan government. The latter—after having billed itself as "Muslim Democrat" (based on the "Christian Democratic" model)— suddenly revealed its true nature with the advent of the Arab Spring "color revolutions."

In terms of domestic and foreign policy, there is a before and after a volte-face. The previous stage involved the infiltration of institutions. The aftermath has been characterized by sectarianism. Before, Ahmed Davutoğlu’s theory of "zero problems" with Turkey’s neighbors took center stage. The former Ottoman Empire seemed to be coming out of its slumber and returning to reality. After that, the opposite happened: Turkey fell out with each of her neighbors and went to war against Syria.

The Muslim Brotherhood

Piloting this shift is the Muslim Brotherhood, a secret organization that Erdogan and his team have always been affiliated with, despite their denials. Even if this shift is subsequent to the one involving Qatar—the financier of the Muslim Brotherhood—it bears the same implication: authoritarian regimes that claimed to be foes of Israel suddenly act like close allies.

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Turkey's Erdogan Gets Taste of His Own Medicine?

photo: OccupyGezi

After nearly a week of increasing public protests in Turkey, ostensibly over government plans to turn a last bit of green space in Istanbul into another shopping mall, matters became far more serious on Friday. Riot police descended on the protestors with various forms of tear gas (and possibly worse chemical and biological agents -- raw sewage?) and water cannon, blasting everyone and everything in sight including non-participants. When they caught protestors, they beat them violently and brutally, as can be seen in this video. Photographs show that police fired tear gas into crowded underground metro stations, leading to panic and worse. Istanbul looks like a war zone.

Today indications are that protests have only increased in number and fury in response to the violence with which they were met yesterday.

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