Syria affair as seen from Ankara

Syria affair as seen from Ankara

Following the country’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Feb. 5 during the Security Conference in Munich, Turkish President Abdullah Gül yesterday said the Cold War-like diplomacy should not be followed in the Syria crisis at the expense of the lives of Syrian people.

Those statements were addressed by Davutoğlu to P5+1 countries, which means five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council having veto power (the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain) and Germany. He further explained the Ankara perspective of a “power game” by the big ones “over the pains of the Syrian people.”

Power game is another example of Cold War terminology in itself. And P5+1 is actually the de facto group formed for nuclear program negotiations with Iran; so there is a European Union and Israeli dimension in the background.

It isn’t a surprise that half-an-hour after Davutoğlu’s statement on the Munich panel, in which he also said Turkey opens its doors for all Syrians fleeing from the oppression of the Beshar al-Assad regime, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle had a press conference in the hall next to the Conference room and said Turkey and the Arab League should assume a central role in the establishment of a contact group in overcoming the Syria crisis.

Turkey has already announced that it would wait for the outcome of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Damascus following Russian and Chinese vetoing of a U.N. sanction proposal (by the Arab League initiative and Turkey) and the League meeting expected this coming weekend on a possible roadmap.

There was another push by Italy for Turkey to assume a more active position regarding the Syrian crisis. And this is exactly what Turkey doesn’t want to do alone. France is attacking Russia because of the veto as well, as Nicolas Sarkozy and Vladimir Putin are expected to meet on the Syrian issue.

Ankara wants to see a shared responsibility under a U.N. mandate and tries to internationalize the Syrian crisis where the “big ones,” as Ankara sees it, try to regionalize the issue, giving the main role to Syria’s neighbor Turkey with a shared 910-kilometer border. One has to keep in mind that Turkey had put two conditions on any military involvement in the Syrian crisis; one of them being a U.N. resolution based on humanitarian reasoning, and the other being a massive flood of refugees.
That is likely to be the motivation behind Davutoğlu’s welcome of Syrian opposition; to trigger a move on an international scale, which would force not only Russia (and thus China), but the EU to act beyond Cold War gears.

The Americans have closed their diplomatic mission in Damascus as all the eyes are on the outcome of Lavrov’s visit there.