On the Edge of War: Turkish Strategy on Syria

Yesterday, Turkish PM Erdoğan’s speech aired live all over the world which was very important to understand Turkey’s approach. That speech showed us that we are on the edge of war. Also, what can be understood from PM’s speech is that Turkish strategy mostly depends on Syrian side: As long as Bashar al-Assad keeps being aggresive, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for him.

Yesterday when I heard PM saying “We will continue to support opposition in Syria until Assad goes down” I suddenly tweeted from my personal twitter account; “We will face new terrorist attacks unfortunately.”  Today, papers say “4 killed in clashes in southern Turkey (Siirt).” Well, no surprise there. The PKK (terrorists) wing that organize attacks nowadays  are deployed in Syrian soils and they are supported by Assad. Syria have been a ‘sweet home’ to terrorism against Turkey for a long time in the 90’s; hosting terrorist leaders for some time until Turkey’s threat of invasion. Now in 2012, Assad provides anything they need…

As a response to PM’s support to opposition in Syria, Assad plays his terrorism card which makes me think that will cause a war in the end given the current jet crisis. Moreover Turkey changed ‘rules of engagement’ yesterday. Any military element near the border will be considered as military target and will be hit without warning.

Taking into account any possible military engagement pops out the question for its legal base. For this reason Turkey try to legitimize itself in case of war.  Because without support of EU or US (hence NATO) if Turkey feel forced to fight, consequences would be beyond imagination. Plan works out for now. Every detail, every record about the incident is presented and explained to NATO. War is not the first option but, if forced unfortunately it will be the last option. It depends on Assad’s attitude.

A quick sincere apology, convenient compensation would be a relief and would put war out of the question. However, Assad is not even close. His strategy seems to be ‘firing’ people with nationalism, unite them against a foreign enemy and change the target which is he.  Therefore as can be seen clearly, Syrian strategy will determine Turkish strategy.

Columnist, Mustafa Akyol referring a part of PM’s speech says in his article today;

Erdoğan said “Any military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria by posing a security risk will be regarded as a threat, and will be treated as a military target.”

That means that this plane incident is not a “casus belli,” or a cause of war, but future acts of aggression by the Syrian regime may be. So, the thugs of Damascus should behave.