Ankara to mobilize support for Syrian opposition

Ankara to mobilize support for Syrian opposition

The decision of the Arab League to suspend Syria’s membership is no doubt a historic decision. While this is certainly a serious blow to Beshar al-Assad’s regime, let us not forget that external pressure, including economic sanctions, may not bring about a quick fall of al-Assad, unless it involves military intervention. It remains very difficult to have an international consensus, let alone a coalition of the willing to add some sort of military dimension to the campaign to weaken the regime. Unless the killings reach the dimension of massacres, the world would stop short of military action that could lead to a civil war.

Al-Assad relies on that fact and the fact that the regime is used to isolation to affirm his decision to remain in power.

So while the rise in the international pressure has certainly weakened the hands of al-Assad, what will cost the regime’s end still remains internal crackdowns. In this sense the Syrian opposition has assumed a historic mission. The

vision the opposition groups

have for a new Syria and the messages they will convey are now critical in deepening the cracks within the regime.

They have to convey the message that there will not be “de-Baathisation” a la Iraq. In Iraq anyone related with the Baath regime was nearly out casted. The opposition groups need to convey their compatriots that this will not be the case. There will not be revenge by the oppressed Sunnis against the ruling elites.

Similarly the fears of the Christian and Kurdish minorities, which remain one of the most important pillars of support to the Assad regime, need to be alleviated. They should make sure they are not intending to replace the current regime with radical Islamism and extreme Arab nationalism. The opposition groups should also adopt a realistic position on how to proceed. They should, for instance, not expect a Libyan type of intervention.

All these are easier said than done. Yet this is where we will see Turkey step in. It will not be a surprise to see the Turkish government try to unify the opposition behind these principles. But it is also important that they are being told the same messages by the other relevant players.

Similarly, it will not be a surprise to see that Turkey will try

to mobilize the international and regional players to unite the opposition behind the above mentioned principles.

Openly supporting opposition groups is a first for Turkey, which until now have been extremely careful on staying loyal to the principle of not interfering in

other countries’ internal affairs. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s previous statement that what happens in Syria is Turkey’s internal matter was a serious mistake, a big gaffe.

Syria is not an internal matter of Turkey. Obviously, what happens there concerns Turkey much more than the rest of the world. Yet Turkey should resist those who are looking to put the burden on Turkey’s shoulders. This would be a burden that Turkey neither can nor should bear alone.

The best option for Turkey remains to coordinate relevant players so the opposition groups endorse a realistic course