How can Turkey buy into the federal Syria idea?
The opposition groups in Syria are still in disarray. Since most of the political and military organizations are “fabricated,” there is no prospect for a united political-military front. They have no capacity to carry the “revolution” to the next phase.
Moreover, this incapacity is damaging not only the “future of the revolution,” but also the “ideology of democracy and freedom” and its allies. As armed groups commit “war crimes,” both the legitimacy of the struggle and the regional faith in “democracy” are being questioned. Let’s not forget the jihadists who are taking root in the region by systematically using violence which, in civil war, forces everyone to join a group.
These concerns are definitely shared by the politicians of the United States and the United Kingdom. They feel the need to intervene more decisively to end political and military polarization, prevent the war crimes of the opposition groups and end the jihadist presence. Of course, as demonstrated by Hillary Clinton’s recent remarks, their ultimate aim is to save the reputation of those countries who supported this “dead-end revolution.”
Moving the debate from Istanbul to Qatar and opening criticism toward the Syrian National Council, which is supported by Turkey, brings forth the question of Turkey’s future role. Managing badly what comes after the meeting could lead to crisis and tension among allies.
Turkey has acted in close cooperation with the U.S. and the U.K. since the beginning of the Syrian crisis. It played a central role in pressuring and delegitimizing the regime, providing aid for the refugees and armed movements, all of which resulted in high economic, diplomatic and political costs in both the domestic and international arenas. It is now obvious that the limit of the contribution Turkey could make to the political and military developments in Syria has been reached. This limit was defined by the passage of time, Turkey’s ethnic and sectarian structure and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s resilience.
Uniting the opposition is only possible through the formulation of a clear political objective. It is no secret that the political objective that can satisfy all the ethnic, religious and sectarian groups in post-al-Assad Syria is regarded as federalism and that this idea, though not clearly formulated, has strong supporters. It is also known that the Turkish government is not very eager to see Kurds and Alawites acquire federal rights in Syria.
On the other hand, any progress in Syria will depend on increasing the military capacity of the armed opposition. This means more powerful weapons and more functional organization. Who will get the weapons and how, and who will control this process – these questions remain.
The meaning of the Qatar meeting for Turkey depends on the answers given to these questions. Let’s wait and see.