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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Turkey fears losing its best friend

Turkey has stepped on the toes of its best friend, Bashar al-Assad. And now, it is trying to figure out what it will do if Bashar should fall.
But what annoyed the Syrians was Erdogan's remarks in Turkey against the use of force and the fear of "a new Halabja and Hama," referring to the use of chemical weapons by Iraq against the Kurds, and the massacre of 10,000 residents of Hama in 1982 by Assad's father, Hafez Assad.

The Syrian newspaper Al-Wattan, which is owned by Rami Makhlouf, Bashar Assad's cousin and the richest man in the country, launched an unprecedented attack against the Turkish declarations.

"Since the start of the recent events in Syria, the official Turkish echelon has demonstrated haste and improvisation," the paper wrote. "It seems that the preaching in favor of reforms that is being manifested vociferously by Erdogan on every possible stage in Europe, and that of the new Ottoman engineer, the foreign minister Davutoglo, do not provide any special means of bringing about solutions to the invented difficulties so as to deal openly and clearly with these events."

Makhlouf's paper didn't stop there. "If the political and economic prosperity that Turkey enjoys must be attributed to its secular history and to the strategic corrections made by Davutoglo, then the way it is being conducted in the face of the Syrian question is likely to cause it to take a step back," it continued.

Erdogan, who attributes Turkey's economic prosperity to himself - and justly so - was surely not happy to read the translation of these remarks, especially since the volume of Turkish trade with Syria stands at some $2 billion.

Last week a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood from Syria, Mohammed Riad Shafeka, visited Istanbul and told the Turkish media that his movement was indeed the moving force behind the protests in Syria. By doing so, he actually played straight into the hands of Assad's regime, which has claimed all along that the disturbances were being caused by Islamic extremists and separatists.

Syria does not understand why Ankara allowed Shafeka to go to Istanbul from his exile in Yemen and why its media were allowed to interview him. And indeed Erdogan hastened to declare through his foreign ministry spokesman, that "Turkey will not allow any initiative on the part of the Muslim Brotherhood to harm the execution of reforms in Syria."

According to reports from Turkey, Syria has sent information to the head of Turkish Intelligence, Hakan Fidan, showing that the Muslim Brotherhood was involved in shooting at Syrian security forces during the protests, so as to counter the declarations by Erdogan that "there are no armed gangs in Syria," contrary to what the Syrian regime claimed.

Erdogan explained that what is happening in Syria cannot merely be considered an internal Syrian affair, or merely a matter for Turkish foreign policy.

Turkey is concerned both by the possibility that the Assad regime will fall and by the fact that it does not see who could possibly replace it. Meanwhile it seems that Erdogan and his regime are mainly worried that the all-embracing foreign policy started by his government could crash and have an effect on the results of the elections to be held on June 12.

This policy, which has the slogan "Zero problems with all neighbors," is now coming up against the unexpected reality in which Turkey, despite all its efforts, finds itself floating on stormy waters, without being able to influence the course of events, and being seen as a supporter of the Assad dictatorship.
One day the Turks might even come to regret befriending Iran and shunning Israel. One day. But not now.

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At 12:26 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Faster, faster, faster, now.


Carl - don't you love the contretemps between two of Israel's enemies?

Like the old saying has it, no good deed goes unpunished.


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