Turkey, the US and the Syrian crisis
The United States’ take on the Syrian crisis is not that different than its take on the Arab uprisings. All America sees in the Arab Spring is the collapse of a regional order it has spent 30 years building. The Camp David order with Israel and its political and energy policies has begun to fall with the Arab uprisings. “The new Middle East and North Africa projects” of the post Sept. 11 neo-con fanatics ended with Iraq before things even started. The Arab uprisings occurred despite the United States and the totalitarian regimes in the region. Syria, which is the last stop of the Arab uprisings, is not the desired end of a political tsunami for the United States. The United States, which was indifferent to the uprising in Tunisia, indecisive in Egypt and ineffective in Libya, maintained its distance to the Syrian uprising.
Turkey is the most courageous supporter of the Arab uprisings in the region. This support, which began with Tunisia, extended to hosting the Syrian opposition. In the Syrian crisis, it is just as difficult to name one firm actor who unequivocally stood by Turkey as it is to name one who stood by the Syrian opposition. Not even then has Turkey faltered from its policy on Syria. It was both politically and geopolitically impossible for Turkey to take any other position in the face of hundreds of thousands of Syrians flowing across the Turkish border.
As it stands today, the Syrian crisis has turned into a moral and Realpolitik test for all actors involved. Iran and Russia, having chosen to stand by a dictator with bloody hands, will be the ones to lose in the long run. The position the West, particularly the United States, has taken in this crisis does not amount to anything other than a huge geopolitical loss. Don’t let this be misunderstood. No one, and certainly not Turkey, is demanding a military intervention from the U.S. in Syria. What is being demanded is a “political intervention” that, in the face of the easy support regional actors, particularly Russia, are giving to the Bashar al-Assad regime, does not look the other way.
The policy of looking the other way in the face of Russia’s destructive role in Syria will only ensure that a fate similar to Russia awaits for the U.S. “What is Russia’s fate?” you ask? It is being buried amid a serious crisis of legitimacy in Middle Eastern geopolitics. The policy that ensures al-Assad stands in Syria with Russian assistance is also trying to help Nouri al-Maliki stand in Iraq. What needs to be apprehended is that this political development called the “Arab Spring” is only the first wave of a bigger political tsunami in the new Middle East. The second wave of the Arab uprisings will probably struggle against “American indecisiveness.” Such as it is, the peoples in the region have already began talking about a Russian-American “neo Sykes-Picot” deal as a newer version of the century-old hidden agreement between the British and the French.
Turkey is the only actor that stands to spoil the neo Sykes-Picot. It appears that it will be impossible for al-Assad to regain his power in Syria as long as Turkey maintains its position. The regime that is still standing in Syria only because it did not hesitate to turn the country into a wreck is not the al-Assad regime. In fact, that regime was toppled by the Syrian opposition’s uprising against the first Baath massacres three years ago. Moreover, Iran was rendered ineffective in this war two years ago by the Syrian opposition when its credibility in the region was challenged. Right now, the force the Syrian opposition is fighting against is nothing but Russia and the global community that looks the other way!