MEHMET ALİ BİRAND > Turkey did not lose face

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Yesterday, all of Turkey was all ears listening to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

One segment was disappointed, because they wanted war. They regarded Syria’s downing of a training plane as a challenge and they believed that retaliation was a must. The sentence they were frequently using was, “We have lost face.” They argued that the prime minister must have a “military reaction.”

How come Syria downed our training plane? If we don’t immediately also hit them, then nobody in the Middle East will take us seriously… There were such simplistic comments.

The prime minister, in his speech yesterday, demonstrated the reaction that suits a serious state. In other words, Turkey did not lose face.

From now own, a clash may erupt at any moment

Now it is Syria who should be thinking ahead, because, from now on life for the Bashar al-Assad administration will be more difficult. Up to now, a verbal dispute was being experienced, but this period is now over. Now, it is two enemy nations openly confronting each other.

There were a few points in the prime minister’s speech that I took very seriously:
 - Turkey, from now on, will assist the Syrian opposition more intensely. Up to now, the assistance was very carefully done and especially arms aid was rejected. From now on, Ankara has a free hand.

 - If Syrian planes or any military plane violate Turkish territorial waters, contrary to previous attitudes, there will be a response.

 - Turkey will do whatever it can until the al-Assad regime falls.

Some of us may consider these steps “empty.” They may be expecting much tougher and much more concrete measures.

Al-Assad has made Turkey, with which its relations were already tense, a full enemy now. Let’s be prepared for the period ahead. From now on, we can encounter a new incident any moment, and this time we might be dragged into a much hotter clash.

Would Iran support Syria or Turkey?
Relations with Syria may go out of control. Syria’s most important ally in the region is Iran.

What would Iran do in today’s crisis environment? Which side would it take? Will it support Turkey or Syria?

Iran’s situation is very difficult. It would not want to lose Turkey nor would it give up Syria. This country is important for Iran for its own security. Because Iran regards the United States as a threat against itself, Syria is a very precious “card” for Iran. Iran would never want the al-Assad regime to be replaced by a pro-American administration.

Also Iran can reach the Mediterranean through Syria thanks to its close ally, the al-Assad regime. It would not want to give this up easily. On the other hand, there is Turkey; the only country that has access to Europe and a country that cannot be disregarded.

Believe me, Iranian diplomacy can manage this difficult equilibrium. It would not turn its back on Ankara. It would not exclude Damascus. The authorities in Tehran are masters in these matters.

Russia benefits from the crisis
Russia, on the other hand, is Syria’s most important supporter in the international dimension. Whatever step Turkey takes, it has to take into account what Moscow would think and how it would act.

Moscow sells military equipment to Syria. It influences Middle East issues though Syria. It enjoys the military facilities on Syrian territory. These are extremely significant advantages that will never be abandoned.

The toppling of the al-Assad regime is against Moscow’s interests. That is why it is protecting Damascus and will not let go of it.

Russians, thanks to Syria, have more cards in their hands at the global negotiation table with the U.S. Also, any crisis in the region boosts oil prices and this is to Russia’s advantage. Now, oil is Russia’s only income.

Because of all these reasons Russia will not let go of Syria. However, we should also not forget that it is never known when and on whom the super powers will turn their backs.


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Hartabuna Hartabuna

6/27/2012 11:07:35 PM

Turkey did not lose face? Yeah right. If you believe this, I have a great bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan I can sell you for cheap... Like good ol' Tuco Ramirez (the good, the bad and the ugly) said: "When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk. "

mara mcglothin

6/27/2012 9:09:42 PM

Turkey loses face every time the esteemed PM or FM or Mr Bagis opens their mouths. If you play with fire then you will get burned. Some learn faster than others.


6/27/2012 9:08:20 PM

Turkey certainly lost face, especially when a Russian egg landed on it. NATO also got a big black eye. Russia is playing chess at the expense of Assad and Syrians. Short term win, but we know how this will all end.

Blue Dotterel

6/27/2012 4:22:36 PM

alper, Kemalists would not be starting unnecessary wars with its neighbors, and would send warplanes into other countries airspace to provoke attacks. Ataturk was a soldier and man of peace; Erdogan is a civilian and reckless warmongerer.

Agnes Smith

6/27/2012 2:03:40 PM

@ilker - Russia is in a win win situation with oil and why they protect Syria. If the oil freezes in Syria the price goes up - if it doesn't they still are providers. Its another oil story. How can the west survive without buying oil and gas? How can Turkey? So maybe no so simple?

alper riza

6/27/2012 1:08:40 PM

Megaphone diplomacy is not the kemalist way. The kemalist way is to move quietly and use overwhelming power when and if essential.On the other hand, the downing of a military plane by the Syrians and the attack on the Mavi in 2010 by the Israelis, taken together in terms of loss of face are serious . However, when states fall out they are not like men engaged in a brawl where there is peer pressure to hit back instantly. States can wait and see and plan. Discretion is the better part of valour!


6/27/2012 12:51:55 PM

Repeat after me, "Mr Erdogan created the incident so that Turkey could establish a secure zone for the rebels." How do you lose face when you are able to do what you desire??? Erdogan has an ability to create chaos and the blame others. He wanted to strain the relations with Israel and he created Mavi Marmara, and now he wants to create a secure zone. What he has done is no different then US no fly zones in Iraq. Dangerous games, but certain egos I guess need more excitement.

Loran Selim

6/27/2012 12:13:41 PM

The article is full of contradictions. How "Turkey did not lose face" when it has to take into acount the positions of Iran and especially Russia wich regards Syria as an advatage " will not let go of it". Excuse me Mr Birand, but that is just funny.


6/27/2012 12:09:46 PM

@ilker. It is not that simple, stop buying Russian oil, especially after sanctions imposed to Iran. This is a very dangerous situation which reminds cold war between US-Russia

sam stevens

6/27/2012 12:06:26 PM

Methinks he doth protest too much, but we all know the best form of defence is attack & admit nothing ! Turkey was the one at fault here, flying into a war zone was reckless,careless & aggressive. There is much more to this than we have been told.
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