Towards a long and dirty war?
Things are getting complicated in Syria. As for the Annan Plan, it always looked like a weak text full of optimistic wishes, unprepared for solving the problems or giving a chance to those who wanted to step up to the plate in the next phase. As a matter of fact, Erdoğan did not take it seriously from the start. Parties tried to find new allies or to strengthen existing ones, even if only for the short term. But the truth is that the arrow has come off the bow and internal peace is a remote chance in Syria.
As a matter of course, fights will be “long standing” and mostly civilians – women and children – will suffer. Unfortunately, society will disintegrate rapidly by experiencing great traumas.
Not only the balances in Syria that were established by force, but also the regional balances, have changed. Pent up ethnic, sectarian, tribal and religious identities have emerged as political centers of power and main actors of policy. Each and every one of these groups have started remembering again blanketed or suppressed hostilities, whose roots lie in the depths of history, biases and contradictions, which have powerful psychological dimensions. People have started making them the most important reference in their fights and alliances. Moreover, this situation has rippled beyond the Syrian borders.
Take Turkey if you wish. One may see the developments easily, no matter what window one looks through. For example, Sunni Islam is traditionally strong and influential, but while it was hitherto the most effective determinant of domestic politics, it is now quite efficient in foreign policy. Thus, the most important argument in presenting the incidents in Syria and convincing the public is “sectarian stakeholdership,” robed in religious brotherhood. However, one may find in Turkey a strong vein of Nusayris, or Alawites - due to contradiction in terms - that are fighting to maintain their power in Syria. This can especially be found along the line stretching from Hatay to Adana and Mersin. Also, if one mentions Kurdish ethnic identity in Syria, again he/she must keep in mind that a Kurdish vein stretching deep into Turkey is a reality.
The television, media, cell phones and the internet have negated physical borders and geography in today’s world. The effective role of communications technologies in forming identity is a reality of the present day. Thrown into the bargain, “violence” may create a ripple effect in times of civil war, both on victims and perpetrators, thanks to communications technologies.
Syria is irreversibly heading toward a civil war based on identities. When looking to previous examples in the world, there is no peaceful solution on the horizon. “Existing victims” of war keep fleeing to neighboring countries. Turkey is pushing in the field of diplomacy at the moment, if it receives the required international legitimacy, it may send “soldiers” in the future, in the name of protecting the “Sunni victims.” This means that soldiers will go into Syria not only with their uniforms, but also biased with the existing fault lines in Turkey, which are becoming ever more visible and deepening. The “mission to protect the civilians” might be breeding a new and complicated problem for those who govern Turkey.