As I’ve written, Assad’s core calculation is that he can crush domestic opponents city by city without triggering foreign intervention. The US is out of the picture and the Security Council is unlikely to act, given Russian and Chinese anger at the shameless way NATO stretched the Libya authorization from a humanitarian rescue to intervention in a civil war.Turkey is the remaining wild card, and as reported in the Turkish English language paper Zaman, the Turkish foreign minister raised the stakes:
[Turkish Foreign Minister] Davutoğlu told reporters on Monday after full-scale military operations in a number of Syrian cities since Thursday by Syrian authorities to crush the five-month uprising against the 11-year rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that Turkey is demanding that all military operations that result in civilian death must be stopped immediately and unconditionally.“If these operations do not stop there will be nothing left to say about the steps that would be taken,” he said, without elaborating.“This is our final word to the Syrian authorities, our first expectation is that these operations stop immediately and unconditionally,” Davutoğlu said.
This looks like a sheep in wolf’s clothing; without specific consequences the threat is weak. The choices for Turkey in Syria aren’t easy, but intervention would be expensive and risky.Does Assad call what he must hope is a Turkish bluff and continue the repression? Does he temporize, slowing down operations for a day or two? What does Turkey do if Assad ignores its warning?Stay tuned. And at Via Meadia I will soon be posting on Turkey’s new foreign policy and the “big idea” behind it.