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Will Turkey Stop Assad?

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.

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  • Bill Phelps

    Assad and his military know that 12% of Turkeys’s flage rank officers (generals and admirals) have been or will be purged The Turkish military is also demoralized. Assad has nothing to fear from Turkey

  • Corlyss

    “This looks like a sheep in wolf’s clothing; without specific consequences the threat is weak.”

    Watch what they do, not what they say. I’d like to be a fly on the wall in Ankara and Teheran to hear what they are really talking about.

  • Mrs. Davis

    Spengler notes difficulties with the Turkish miracle which may explain the need for a foreign distraction.

  • WigWag

    As detestable as the Assad regime is, Turkey really isn’t in a position to be lecturing anyone, including Syria.

    How many Kurds has Turkey killed in the past quarter century? I’ve seen numbers as high as 40,000; as brutal as the Alawite regime in Syria is, the number of Syrian victims is only a small percentage of the number of Kurds who have been slaughtered by Turkish regimes both secular and Islamic.

    Should we really be relying on the Turks for their diplomatic skills? Have they played a helpful role or a harmful role in Cyprus? Have they made peace more likely or less likely in the disputed Azerbajani region of Nagorno-Karabakh? What about their fondness for flotillas designed to assist the Jew-haters in Hamas?

    Is religious tolerance in Turkey really that much better than it is in Syria? Has Professor Mead checked recently how the Turkish state treats the Alevi? What about the Orthodox Church?

    And then there’s the little matter of Turkey being a serial genocide denier. Should the victims of the Armenian genocide be forgotten merely because it offends the sensibilities of the Turks to remind them of their brutal past?

    And speaking of their past, has there ever been an empire more horrid that the Ottoman Empire? Take a look at the nations in the world that were colonized by the British, the Russians (and Soviets) and the Habsburgs and compare the level of development in those nations with the level of development in former Ottoman colonies; the results of this comparison are revealing.

    Should the Turks be lecturing the Syrians about human rights or should Assad be providing lessons in human rights to Erdogan?

    It looks like a closer call to me than may seem obvious at first blush.

  • Kris

    Ah, if only there were a Western democracy next to Syria, a US ally whose air force had a proven capability of swatting aside the Syrian air force, and whose capable military was within 40 miles of Damascus!

    Oh, and which wasn’t the Font of All Evil…

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