Ankara sees no NATO role in Syria
Although many European countries have voiced the need to send a strong message to the Bashar al-Assad regime that wielding chemical weapons attacks against civilians will not go unanswered, there are still wide cracks within the international community as to how this response will be given.
A limited action to be carried out by the United States through its sea launched-cruise missiles seems to be the most preferable action for the international community. One of the most important reasons for that is the fact that the European countries are completely divided when it comes to coordinating a military intervention against Syria.
Ankara believes it’s nearly impossible to let NATO adopt a decision on Syria due this division among allies, and thus is not considering wasting its energy in Brussels to this end. The Central and Eastern European members of NATO do not want to see it getting involved in the Syrian quagmire. On the other hand, some member countries think a potential NATO engagement would kill even the tiniest hopes for a diplomatic solution in Syria, and would send a very negative message to the entire Arab world.
There are also differing views on the legality of such an action in the absence of the U.N. Security Council resolution. Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said her country would not join a coalition of the willing in the absence of a U.N. Security Council resolution, a position embraced by many other European countries. Bonino’s statement is in a complete contrast to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who has said Turkey will join the coalition even in the absence of a Security Council resolution.
In Ankara’s eyes, this proposed coalition of the willing could be composed of the prominent countries of the Friends of the Syrian People, the main international body bringing more than 110 countries together. But the number of countries that would take place within this coalition will not be more than around six to eight, due to differences in points of view with regard to a military option in Syria. Natural members of this coalition seem to be the U.S., the United Kingdom, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and few more.
It’s not surprising that Ankara is suggesting this composition of countries from the Friends of the Syrian People Group, as it always wanted to place this body ahead of all other international initiatives concerning Syria, especially the joint Russian-American Geneva Process.
The bad news for Ankara is that its Western allies are mulling revitalizing the suspended Geneva II process in the aftermath of the proposed limited military action against al-Assad. Accordingly, Ankara is rushing to let the Friends of the Syrian Group meet soon and take important decisions to change the course of the civil war in Syria, to the advantage of the Free Syrian Army.
Turkey’s intelligence has found out that the Syrian regime wielded chemical weapons against civilians nearly 10 times with tactical purposes up to now. The efficiency of the response to be given is critically important, Ankara believes, with concerns that a weak reply will further encourage al-Assad and his men to commit further massacres against civilians in their bid to crack down on the Syrian rebels.