Turkey against military intervention in Syria
Turkey will not take part in any military intervention aiming to change the regime in Syria, Turkish Foreign Ministry sources said Nov. 18.
“Contingency planning is ready,” a source told a group of journalists in a briefing in Istanbul. “There might be a few exceptions to that policy, but Turkey believes the [ball has been] passed in Syria both for the [Bashar] al-Assad regime and the opposition. The Syrian regime will not explode, it is likely to implode. The change of regime in Syria is inevitable and no one – including Turkey and even Iran – are considering that the Assad regime will continue.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a number of sources gave examples of scenarios in which the Turkish military could take part in a military operation against Syria.
Turkey could become involved if the Syrian Army advances toward a city close to the Turkish border, such as Aleppo, thereby producing a flood of refugees.
There would be “hundreds of thousands” of refugees, not just thousands,” one source said. “We don’t want to face with another Iraq flood like the one in 1991,” the source added in reference to the refugee wave caused by the actions of Saddam Hussein.
In such a case, the Turkish military would enter Syrian territory solely to establish a buffer zone to both protect refugees and keep them south of the border.
In an alternative scenario, Turkey could become involved if there are large-scale massacres in cities such as Damascus and others against the opposition. If that were to happen and the United Nations Security Council – with Russian and Chinese support – decides to approve a military intervention on a humanitarian basis, then Turkey would take part.
Turkish diplomats have given a detailed analysis of how Ankara sees the Assad regime. According to this analysis, the regime is a combination of the Arab nationalist Baath Party and the Nusayri (Alawite) sect of Islam, which is a minority of around 12 percent in the country.
“Baathist ideology is strong. The supporters of the regime got rich and strong in time and they are united among themselves, unlike the case in Egypt or Libya,” one source said. “They have blindly strong solidarity among themselves, so it may take some time for the regime to collapse. Plus, it’s built on naked fear. After the 1982 massacre in Hama and Homs, we have an example from 1987 in which after a protest in Aleppo, police arrested every student in a high school classroom; nobody ever heard what happened to them again. Yet people in Syria are not afraid of the regime anymore. Amid killings everyday we observe more people taking to the streets every other day. We now what the Baath is, but when that critical moment comes, it will collapse like houses built by bad contractors in an earthquake.”
Diplomats underline that Turkey wants to prevent the eruption of an ethnic and sectarian civil war in Syria that could cause further instability in the region.
“The current regime can no longer produce stability,” one source said. “Either on a basis of values or Turkey’s interests, we believe that with each day that passes under the Assad regime, the threat to stability increases. We believe stability in Syria and in the region will only be possible again under a democratic government.”