Finian Cunningham (SCF),- Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Washington to drum up more direct NATO intervention in Syria’s conflict. The visit came in the wake of a twin car-bombing in the Turkish town of Reyhanli on 11 May in which more than 50 people were killed.
The background suggests that the Turkish government may have had a hand in that bombing in a desperate attempt to get NATO to extricate Ankara from a failed, and criminal, tactic of regime change in Damascus.
Within hours of the double car-bombing in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli, Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan laid the blame for the atrocity emphatically on Syrian state forces. In an angry tone of defiance, Erdogan vowed that his country would not be “dragged into the quagmire” of the war in Syria.
But the truth is that Turkey is already deeply embroiled in Syria’s more than two-year bloody conflict that by some estimates has claimed over 80,ooo lives.
In a forthright denial of any involvement in the Reyhanli massacre, the Syrian government pointed out with fair reason that the Turkish authorities should take responsibility for its belligerent foreign policy towards its southern neighbour.
The Erdogan government has indeed allowed its border crossings with Syria to become logistical hubs for NATO-backed militants to launch attacks against the Syrian army of President Bashar al-Assad.These militant groups, which comprise so-called jihadist mercenaries from several Arab and other countries, are also accused of targeting civilian populations with atrocious acts of terrorism, including no-warning car bombs in urban neighbourhoods.
Yes, it is true than hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled for sanctuary in Turkey, where the Ankara government is providing humanitarian relief. Some 400,000 Syrian refugees are estimated to be residing in Turkey since the conflict erupting in March 2011, in border towns like Reyhanli in Hatay Province, at a total cost of $50 million a month to Ankara.
Nevertheless, the Erdogan government has permitted porous borders for the free flow of weapons and fighters into Syria. Infuriatingly for Damascus, these militants are allowed to retreat back into Turkey by the Ankara authorities in order to regroup and re-arm.
Credible reports also say that the American CIA and other Western military intelligence agencies are providing the Syrian mercenaries with training and logistics from the NATO Incirlik base in Turkey’s Hatay Province…
In addition, Turkish military officers have been captured or killed in battles with the Syrian army over recent months, according to Syrian state media.
There are also claims that chemical weapons have been supplied from Turkish territory to the mercenaries in Syria. The latter claim, if proven, has a certain irony, since Turkey’s prime minister Erdogan has been one of the most vehement voices among NATO and regional allies accusing the Assad forces of deploying chemical weapons in March near the northern city of Aleppo.
In short, Turkey under Erdogan’s leadership is already bogged down in the Syrian quagmire. Moreover, Erdogan’s government has, through its policy choices and actions, largely created this appalling quagmire.
But the problem for the Turkish leader is that the evident NATO agenda of regime change in Damascus has not gone to plan. Instead of a relatively quick covert campaign of destabilization, as in Libya, the Assad regime has proven to be surprisingly recalcitrant. Indeed, the evidence is that the Syrian authorities are increasingly gaining the military upper hand against the NATO-backed mercenaries, despite the carnage and mayhem unleashed on that country.
This protracted regime-change operation has rebounded most harmfully for Turkey out all of the NATO protagonists. The refugee crisis is reckoned to have cost Ankara $1.5 billion so far; and with the numbers of refugees in Turkey alone projected to double by the end of the year that is placing an unsustainable burden on Turkey’s once bustling economy.
The mercurial Syrian conflict is also rebounding to destabilize Turkey’s internal security problems with the long-running Kurdish separatist insurgency in its southern regions.
- Syria wants to drag Turkey down ‘vile path’: Erdogan (dailystar.com.lb)
- Turkey’s Stubborn Erdogan Is Undone by Obama, Assad (bloomberg.com)
- At least 40 killed, 100 injured in blasts on Turkish-Syrian border – Xinhua (news.xinhuanet.com)
- Turkey’s Erdogan Visits the US: Four Problems That Won’t Be Solved – TIME (world.time.com)
- 40 dead in Turkey car bombings near Syria (news.yahoo.com)
- Syria denies role in Turkey blasts (bbc.co.uk)
- Can Obama Save Turkey From a Syrian Quagmire? – NYTimes.com (warsclerotic.wordpress.com)
- Turkey’s Erdogan Visits the U.S.: Four Problems That Won’t Be Solved (world.time.com)
- No breakthrough on Syria expected in Erdoğan-Obama talks (worldbulletin.net)