Monday, August 08, 2011

Ankara must lead the pressure against Damascus

Washington’s ineffective Syrian policy once more displays how much weaker the U.S. has gotten since its occupation of Iraq in 2003. Then, the mighty U.S. military deposed a strong dictator within weeks. Eight years later, the same Washington now is feeling a great pressure from within and out to do anything meaningful to prevent the Bashar al-Assad regime to stop killing its own people to little avail.
Only a few months earlier, during the beginning of the Libya uprising, things were simpler for Washington. The Franco/British axis led the European coalition; the Arab League extended an unprecedented back up for NATO to intervene in a Muslim country. Moammar Gadhafi further helped international consciousness to be garnered when he threatened publicly to wipe out rebels in Benghazi and consequently assured a rapid United Nations Security Council resolution to be passed to legitimize the military action.
Syria has proved to be a much bigger challenge. First off, the Libyan intervention did not go as well as many hoped it would. Despite heavy NATO bombardment for months, the civil war has dragged into its fourth month, while Gaddafi is still clinging to power with every possible means in his disposal. On Wednesday, even though Chris Stevens, U.S. representative to the Transitional National Council, or TNC, drew a rosier picture for Libya during his briefing at the State Department, extending warfare makes it much harder for the West to have a stronger leverage against Damascus. Responding to my question, Stevens cited Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey as fellow Muslim majority countries, whose support TNC is very pleased with. Stevens did not mention the Arab League, neither whether the League is doing anything to change its image or to pressure the Assad regime to stop its carnage.
One senior State Department official argued this week that the reason U.S. still does not call Assad to step down openly is because it is not sure if such a call would make any difference on the ground. Simply, it appears from these background talks that the current U.S. administration cares more about the U.S.’ own reputation than supporting the legitimate demands of Syrian people.
In reality, in the face of its dismal economic numbers, scratched military sources around the world and very much dysfunctional government with its endless fights, even the most hawkish American experts dare to advocate for any military action for Syria. Sanctions to isolate the Syrian regime seem to be the only policy option, at least for the foreseeable future. The Assad regime, on the other hand, as if they all are very much aware of the grim fiscal and political situation of both European Union and U.S., is taking the advantage to continue crashing peaceful protesters.
Senator Lindsey Graham, during an interview this week, stated that Turkey should lead the international coalition of pressure on Syrian regime, since the U.S. is in no position to hurt Syria by sanctions, which is the argument U.S. Ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford also essentially backed up during his Senate hearing confirmation. The spokesperson of the senator did not seem to have anything else to add when I contacted, so I asked both White House Spokesman Jay Carney and the State Department Spokesman Mark Toner whether U.S. sees Turkey leading such pressure against Syrian regime as Graham described. Both Carney and Toner praised the Turkish role and cooperation towards Syria, though fell short elaborating senator’s argument further.
Economically sound, politically stable Turkey which receives one of the highest approval ratings from Arab people in terms of its leadership, is uniquely positioned to do much to isolate Assad and even to lead such coalition of pressure against him.
Syria is a case for Turkey to assert its moral leadership in the region which was tainted badly earlier in the decade with its close comradeship with many of the region’s dictators.
Otherwise, in all seriousness, this time Washington seems to have nothing to offer for stopping a massacre.

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Guest - Fahd Alharby Madina Saudi Arab
2011-08-08 14:11:16
  cannot push modernization too fast, if you objectvely read about Sarabia, wea re developing faster than any other large country , it takes time.and it is not perfect .The key is for Turkey, jordan , S. Arabia to help the syrian people to kick Bashar.  

Guest - Fahd Alharby Madina Saudi Arab
2011-08-08 14:08:22
  Remo, I hope yoo saw only Hezbollah flags in Bhrain in the first day of demonstration, sunnis are about 45% in Bhrain, in syria the allwite are about 10%,I am against dictaorship anywhere, saudi arabia is moderate and gradually modernizing, but you  

Guest - remo
2011-08-07 17:33:30
  ... looks somehow as follows: Turkey claims regional leadership, yet expects being carried and seated on that throne by others, like carrying tigers to hunting ... funny guys  

Guest - Atheist
2011-08-07 17:32:51
  Erdogan has enough words for Israel but he is silent at Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya. He is bigot,a typical Islamist.  

Guest - remo
2011-08-07 17:30:27
  @Murat: Turkey could have openly critisized Iran and Hezbollah for their murderous support, could have stepped up rethoric, could have asked or moved neighbours for common disapproval of Assad's policy. How about cooperating with Jordan on this ?  

Guest - remo
2011-08-07 17:19:36
  @Murat: well until now, turkish citizens haven't tried to support syrian opposition representatives within Syria. Somehow good idea, a freedom flotilla for the syrian people ... no ? grapes have ripened and need to be harvested ... so suddenly ?  

Guest - Murat
2011-08-07 16:17:45
  What can Turkey do, really? Not much unfortunately. Maybe force a safe corridor? Provide safe passage? Pull the amabassador? On the other hand, Syria has not killed Turkish citizens unlike Israel.  

Guest - remo
2011-08-07 15:28:32
  at Fahd Alharby: ... erm, how about Saudi human rights records ? How about humanitarian aid from Saudi Arabia ? How about Saudi Arabia and the likes taking at least a position publicly ? Ah, ... understand, you're writing from Bahrain.  

Guest - remo
2011-08-07 15:21:56
  Furthermore, what has Turkey to say about Iran and Hezbollah supporting Assad's murder gangs ??? ... quite fishy where turkish voices fall silent !!!  

Guest - remo
2011-08-07 15:18:34
  The closest non muslim allied state is Russia. How about asking them to take action. Mind, that most of the weapons used against syrian population, especially the tanks, were made in Russia.  

Guest - Alan
2011-08-07 00:59:34
  Your neighborhood and do it. If the US does, it'll be roundly condemned by the world once again, no matter what the reason. Time to take care of your own neighborhood. We'll be standing by to critique like you have us.  

Guest - another yabanci
2011-08-07 00:27:54
  If the Obama government is facing great pressure to prevent Assad from stopping to kill his own people, as written by Mr. Tanir, then Pres. Obama has finally has his first foreign policy success.  

Guest - Jim Hale
2011-08-06 16:41:55
  This article should be more about how ineffective the TURKISH reaction to Syria is. Where is Erdogan's outrage. Syria is on Turkey's border, it is killing fellow Sunni's and Erdogan is being very quiet after 2000 Syrian civilians dead. Why is that???  

Guest - Fahd Alharby Madina Saudi Arab
2011-08-06 14:02:51
  It is rare in international relations that the moral imperatives meet with the well serving calaculus of interest as in the Syrian case with Turkey .In light of the westren weakness if not cyncism in regard to Israel , it is time for Turkey to help  

Guest - rpc
2011-08-06 14:02:09
  Flawed premise - that the US needs to intervene militarily in every situation. US criticized when it does and when it does not. Iran helps others kill Americans but US hasn't attacked Iran. Why would US be obligated against Syria?  

Guest - Doron Efrati
2011-08-06 08:54:00
  Obviously Ankara must help the Syrians. They are slaughtered daily by their army. How about a flotilla to say, Tartus or Latakia? Or maybe Erdugan thinks this is a Syrian internal matter? Besides, It's fun to condemn only Israel...  

Guest - ZB
2011-08-06 06:34:42
  To go down with Syria? From Cyprus juction Orthodox greek Church, From Israel's Judaism and from Armenian Christians and Zorastrian can reconvert Turkey in as Christian Jews and Zorastrian Turkey( via friends EU USA Israel NATO) by missiling Rus.  

Guest - Cautious
2011-08-06 02:00:23
  OK - we got it - your anti USA - so what has Turkey done lately except make press announcements saying its a regional power?

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