NİHAT ALİ ÖZCAN > Erdoğan’s new Syria strategy

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Everyone is curious about what will happen next. This article intends to focus on some topics in Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s road map. His Tuesday speech gives us a clue that the new strategy focuses on four issues: changing the rules of engagement, extending support to opposition groups, crafting public opinion at home and abroad and, lastly, putting diplomatic pressure on Syria.

Changing the rules of engagement is the most significant component of the strategy together with the support for the opposition groups. Currently, the military conflict probability between the two armies has increased. This new decision, on one hand, will put Bashar al-Assad under psychological pressure while also engaging a significant portion of its conventional military power. As a result, the pressure on the rebels will decrease and, in the medium term, the Syrian army will be psychologically harmed. In this regard, al-Assad will have to deal with Turkey and internal threats at the same time.

Certainly, the success of Erdoğan’s new strategy depends on al-Assad’s approach to new rules and on how serious he will take Erdoğan’s words. Nevertheless, it is clear that al-Assad is in a dilemma. If Syria keeps its soldiers off the Turkish border so as not to increase the tension, then de facto buffer zones through the border will be inevitable. Moreover, a buffer zone with Turkey behind it will be a strategic problem for the al-Assad regime because it may turn out to be a safe haven for insurgents. If al-Assad decides otherwise and chooses to be active along the border, he will have to deal with the constant probability of conflict.

Related to the developments mentioned above, Turkey will increase its “political support” to insurgent groups while also changing the nature of the support. For example, Turkey, which has not provided weaponry to opposition groups so far, might change its decision. Furthermore, Turkey might provide extra aid to reinforce the military capacity of the opposition groups through things like training. In the end, while the conflict in Syria is increasing, al-Assad will have to cope with problems of a differing nature on two fronts.

Apart from this, because of the new rules of engagement, the Turkish government and its military forces have to face unprecedented problems such as transferring authority, rebuilding officers’ self-confidence, resurrecting their eagerness to take responsibility and allowing them to regain the ability to take quick and correct decisions. This is because it is necessary to grant the subordinate units the authority to make the quick decision to open fire in the event of a border violation. However, this means that the significant decisions which may produce political consequences will be transferred to tactical military leaders. What is more important here is that if you do not do this at the right time and in the right case, it will produce a fiasco. On the other hand, there are serious possible risks in the transfer of authority when we think about the traumas following the inquiries into and arrests of officers.

As a result, there will be no conventional war with Syria; Turkey will follow an indirect strategy – the success of which depends on how serious al-Assad will take Erdoğan and his Armed Forces.


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Notice on comments

Ismail Hijazi

8/23/2012 2:54:50 PM

Blue Dott historically the Turks always defeated you Iranians, and do you know why? Because Turks are good, whereas Iranians have always allowed themselves to be ruled by evil and wicked rulers, and good will always defeat evil in the end no matter how long it takes. Innsh'Allah we will defeat you again in this war, together with your criminal henchmen, as did our Ottoman ancestors in the past.

The Lion

6/29/2012 12:02:30 AM

Blue Dotterel (who I suspect is Iranian), don't worry, Turkiye can destroy the Alawite regime in Syria without "weakening" its mllitary.

V Tiger

6/28/2012 4:35:58 PM

"and also that Turkey has played a role in delivering arms to the opposition, and contributed to its financing, acting together with Saudi Arabia and Qatar." The above sentence is from the article titled 'All paths are valid to topple Bashar al-Assad' by SEDAT ERGİN published in today's Hurriyet. Please the reader needs more respect.

V Tiger

6/28/2012 4:31:08 PM

Very humorous article...Turkey has not provided arms to the opposition so far???Why do you take your readers to be so naive?

Blue Dotterel

6/28/2012 3:59:53 PM

İlker, we are not talking about Ecevit and Erbakan in 1974. That was the Kemalist age. Today, we are in the neoliberal neocolonial age (Neo-Ottoman). Erdogan does nothing without Washington's say so. Erdogan talks a lot, but did nothing about Mavi Marmara, not even to have Turkish warships accompany the next flotilla as he promised. Instead, he he did what he could to prevent the flotilla from leaving Turkey. The AKP leadership is controlled by the US and Israel. Check the acts, not the words.

ilker avni

6/28/2012 11:29:02 AM

@ Blue dotted Turkeydoesnt need any permission from America when it comes to her security,in 1974 America said to Turkey dont expect any help from us if Sovient Union attacks you,did we listen NO,Turkey still landed troops in Cyprus.People seem to forget that Turkey had a Empire for five hundred years and we fought the whole entire World on our own,were not afraid of war with anyone let alone a small nation like Syria.Turkey does not want to see more Syrians die in a war over a loser like Assad.

sam stevens

6/28/2012 9:24:01 AM

Turkey stay out, you will unleash a maelstrom which you cannot control. There are far too many factions at play here, it is not just a case of Turkey V Syria, but many many more countries would be pulled in...........war solves few problems, kills thousands & costs drag on for years...Assad maybe killing people,but war kills many more. Don't do it,calm down & see people not weapons.

Blue Dotterel

6/28/2012 8:53:50 AM

This isn't Erdogan's strategy. It is Washington's. Erdogan wouldn't take a step against Syria without Washington's consent. The US wants Turkey to directly engage Syria, both to destroy Syria and weaken Turkey's military. This is beneficial to NATO and Israel in that they do not have to face negative public opinion at home, and Israel can get others to die for its interests, instead of sacrificing their own. The supporters of the AKP have been used by the US to support the Israelis.
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