MURAT YETKİN > The winds of war

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In an extraordinary session today, the Turkish Parliament gave authority to the government to deploy troops in other countries if and when it finds such an act necessary for national security.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan decided to take such a motion for parliamentary approval after a mortar shell from the Syrian side fell onto a house in the Turkish border town of Akçakale, killing five and wounding eight on Oct. 3. There was a similar incident last week killing one, which the Turks had strongly protested.

Hours after the second incident, Turkish artillery bombarded targets that the Turkish military considered responsible for the killings, the Prime Minister’s office announced. The Turkish Armed Forces have been on high alert along the 910 kilometer-long border with Syria for half a year now, with clashes between the army of the Bashar al-Assad regime and the rebels having escalated into a civil war.

Following the latest incident, Turkey has also applied to the United Nations for more strict measures against the Syrian regime, but this is not very likely since Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council, may use its veto power for a fourth time to continue its support for al-Assad.

The al-Assad regime accuses Turkey - along with France, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - of giving support to the rebels. The headquarters of the rebel Syrian National Council (SNC) is in Turkey and the headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the biggest armed rebel group fighting, was reportedly moved from Turkey to Syria recently. There are already around 100,000 Syrians seeking refuge in Turkey, and since the civil war there has excelled over the last six months the government believes that Syrian intelligence-backed attacks of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have escalated, too.

Nevertheless, another government motion is waiting on Parliament’s agenda next week, to extend the military’s authority to carry out operations against the PKK bases in northern Iraq in retaliation to the PKK’s cross-border attacks in Turkey, amid protests from the Nouri al-Maliki government in Baghdad.

The Syria motion was approved today with the votes of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which has denounced the government’s move as “a motion of war,” and Kurdish problem-focused Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), objected to the motion, but they were unable to get it rejected.

The interesting point is that the CHP is likely to support next week’s motion regarding Iraq, on the grounds that it is being proposed in the context of anti-terror. Most probably the bill will pass and the government will secure the permit to carry out operations in both Iraq and Syria. This means that Turkey has declared that there are potential military situations along its borders with southern neighbors. This is quite a change in the Turkish line regarding both countries, when it is considered that not more than two years ago the Erdoğan government was holding joint Cabinet meetings with the leaders of both countries, within the framework of the “zero problems with neighbors” policy promoted by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

Taking into account the escalating war of words between Israel and Iran, Iran’s support to Syria, Iran and Russia’s displeasure with the new NATO radars in Turkey, and the Syrian regime becoming more aggressive every day, it can easily be said that the Turkish move was not in the direction of soothing down the situation.

The winds of war have started to blow more strongly in the region and nobody knows exactly what will happen after the U.S. presidential elections in a month’s time.


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Notice on comments

Blue Dotterel

10/5/2012 6:37:02 PM

Mara, Most of the ME problems are due to US meddling in the internal affairs of ME nations. There are well known geopolitical reasons why the US has done so since at least WWII. How many tyrannies does the US actively support? Why does it attack Libya through NATO? It uses Turkey in the same way. Why has it supported religious fundamentalists in the ME since the 70s. There is no logical reason why Turkey should oppose Assad, except that the US has ordered it to do so. Most Turks know this.

mara mcglothin

10/5/2012 3:28:55 PM

BLUE It must be so nice to be able to blame all the problems in the World on the USA. Once again, the whole World is simply the USA"s battlefield. You just compared me to a Nazi. Does that mean I can sue?

Brian Irlanda

10/5/2012 9:04:40 AM

The idea of" zero problems with neighbours" was a sincere statement from the government. Unfortunately it is very difficult to achieve when there are shells from the Syrian army killing Turkish citizens and terrorists operating from within the borders of these neighbours. I do not believe Turkey wants war or any other type of conflict but citizens and territory should be protected.

ilker avni

10/5/2012 3:03:47 AM

Irans Defense minster general Ahmad Vahidi visited Iraq,Iran is giveing arms, and adviceing Iraq,to help defend its borders,Last week Iraq annouced that it can defend its skies against Turkeish planes,,now we know who supplied Iraq,they was no guessing it was Iran.The Middle east is heading in the direction of a sectarian war.Turkey has three enemies at its borders not to mention PKK,PJAK.Iranian warnings by the Grand leader,was ignored by Erdogan,who is seen as a Zionist supporter by Iran

Truth Teller

10/4/2012 9:38:58 PM

It is possible that we see the first steps of Turkey slipping to war against Iran, at the moment on Syrian soil but on the near future, who know.

Blue Dotterel

10/4/2012 8:10:54 PM

One thing I am wondering about is does this mean that Erdogan (aka the US) can now have the military attack Syria on any pretext whatsoever without consulting the nation through the assembly? Talk about a coup.

rich bind

10/4/2012 6:32:40 PM

The AKP sees an alliance with Egypt (both Islamic governments) as a first step toward regional domination. Getting rid of Assad weakens Iran and with the help of Hamas and the "Palestinian cause" as a political check on Israel, they believe they will set the stage for a new empire of the East.

Blue Dotterel

10/4/2012 6:20:35 PM

"The al-Assad regime accuses Turkey - along with France, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - of giving support to the rebels." This is not merely an accusation, it is a confirmed fact. The US and NATO have supported and supplied foreign mercenaries through Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi from the beginning. This attack on Syria is not an isolated event, but a major part of US foreign policy. Not since Nazi Germany has the world been threatened by such a warmongering juggernaut.
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