NİHAT ALİ ÖZCAN > The paper war

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According to statements made following U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Turkey, the two countries will work together on the Syria issue as regards intelligence and plans for any military intervention. It is natural that providing the intelligence that will shape future plans will take a long time, and military, political, diplomatic, and humanitarian improvements mean that it is possible to create various intervention options. In other words, the generals and intelligence officers of both countries have deduced from the “paper war” in Syria that the time for its end cannot yet be predicted. 

For the U.S. not to seek to inflame the situation to “a bloody paper war” is understandable, because the U.S. is playing its cards at times dictated by various factors such as the presidential election, the position of China, Russia and Iran in the UN, the cost of a military intervention in Syria, the complexity of such an operation, and the rebels’ unreliable behavior. Politicians can’t predict the future completely, and they don’t have a “clear political aim” to give to military planners. 

On Turkey’s side, the urgency of the situation is obvious. The number of refugees coming to Turkey from Syria has been increasing. While the costs of sheltering these refugees are on the rise, Turkey is also having difficulties controlling the camps. Besides, the local Turkish community does not conceal its irritation with the refugees. 

In Syria, uprisings and civil wars do not end quickly and have a tendency to turn into vicious cycles. The resisters have not set up a disciplined organization. As the days pass, they have become more polarized. Moreover, numerous jihadists, not only from Turkey but also from other countries, have been going to Syria with sectarian motivations. It is possible that, as well as Sunnis, Alevi (Alawi) Turkish citizens of Arab ethnic origin have been going to Syria. All along the Turkey-Syria border, sectarian and ethnic fault lines are moving slowly. If the clashes there partially to Turkey it will be no surprise. 

Similar to [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad’s supporters, the rebels continue to commit serious human rights violations, as they are not disciplined or controlled. This harms their legitimacy and makes it difficult for the civilian population to support them. Videos from conflict scenes and the clashes in Aleppo have provided important clues to understanding the situation, as it can be seen that the armed rebels are not as powerful as predicted, and the intelligence services have been mistaken in their analyses. 

Another annoying issue for Turkey is the increase in Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist attacks. This preoccupies the government, and leaves the government’s relationship to the public in a difficult position. Meanwhile, Turkey-Iran relations are strained, and the Baghdad government is grousing. Russia is watching developments silently, and will probably join the game whe it feels it is the right time. 

Nevertheless, the U.S. and the U.K., Turkey’s allies, do not want to disappoint Turkey on the Syria issue. The U.S. has suggested new topics to the Turkish Armed Forces and intelligence service to increase their “capacity for planning in the paper war.” The U.S. has also been negotiating to sell Turkey three very expensive old-fashioned war helicopters for use in the fight against the PKK. They expect us to believe that these will provide “strategic superiority” against the PKK. At this point, Clinton’s statement that “the PKK will not be permitted to settle in Syria” has “strategic depth,” and public opinion seems to have relaxed after hearing it.


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Blue Dotterel

8/18/2012 5:19:59 AM

You should also understand that most of Assad's "closest friends" are corrupt political and military personnel who have been bribed by the US through Qatar and Saudi to "defect". These types exist in all countries. Imperialists have used them frequently in the past to maintain control over colonized populations. They will be the ones to take power, if Assad goes, but do not expect them to even be as democratic or popular as Assad. Just look at the disaster and chaos NATO has brought to Libya.

Blue Dotterel

8/18/2012 5:14:05 AM

Tamer, Mara, if not for Qatar, Saudı, Turkey and the US creating the FSA mercenaries, many of whom are not Syrian and do not support Democracy in Syria, there would be 20,000 fewer Syrian deaths and no refugees. The FSA is a NATO and GCC proxy army recruited sent into Syria to overthrow its government, so that Israel and the US can have an easier time when they attack Iran. It has noting to do with democracy and human rights. Assad is still supported by the majority of Syrians.

mara mcglothin

8/16/2012 6:51:19 PM

What then BLUE???These people would all be lying dead in the streets!

Aryeh Rapaport

8/16/2012 5:08:17 PM

Its right for Turks to be worried by recent events. Syria is becoming a sectarian battle ground between Sunni, Shia & other sects. Not having a credible group to lead the opposition, take responsibility, control harms a great cause of toppling Assad. Its clear Direct confrontation with Syria will include Iran. Im not sure all countries including Turkey are ready or want all out war with Iran. We will see in coming days, weeks, months.

Tamer Aslantas

8/16/2012 11:17:27 AM

@Blue Dotterel. So you're saying that the FSA started shooting first? As I recall it there was no FSA before Assad started his attacks against his own citizen. Who are you supporting here? Assad is destroying lives and homes. Why is it wrong to fight back? Why did so many of his closest 'friends' leave him if he was so rightful? With such a large group of refugees there are always rotten apples between them. Those who can't behave should be exiled from the camps and send back to Syria.

Blue Dotterel

8/16/2012 5:58:19 AM

Turkey has only itself to blame for the refugee problem. If the AKP had not supported the terrorists committing atrocities against the Syrian people, there would not be a refugee problem.
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