Many believe that Turkey vastly miscalculated the events in Syria
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— A senior member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey was recently quoted as saying that despite the lingering resentment between Ankara and Damascus, both countries still had similar views of the Kurdish issue and their autonomy.
“Assad is ultimately a killer. He tortures his own people. But he doesn’t support Kurdish autonomy. We may dislike one another, but we pursue similar politics with that regard,” the unnamed senior AKP official told Reuters on June 17 widely reported in Turkish media.
So far the official view in Turkey has been reluctant to accept the impasse in the military situation in Syria with both the army and anti-regime forces locked in a consuming wait-and-see position.
At least for the past months, and especially since the Russian intervention last year, it is no longer a war between Assad’s killing army and his anti-ISIS adversaries as both sides have spectacularly been able to maintain their military positions in their stronghold areas.
“It is a cul-de-sac. Syria, Russia and Iran were unable to quell the Syrian opposition (forces) in spite of their best efforts,” says Serdar Yildirim, a professor at the Artuklu University in Mardin.
“And Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others have realized that they cannot defeat the Baath party in Damascus,” he says.
Yildirim believes since Washington has no immediate intention to remove Assad from power, it seems that compromise is what remains to be done.
Many believe that Turkey vastly miscalculated the events in Syria and the fate of its defiant despot in the early months of the uprising in 2011 capitalizing on a quick removal of President Assad.
Ankara has since faced growing criticism for its unreserved support of anti-regime forces in the country that many political commentators say has, directly or implicitly, given rise to the ISIS zealots in the entire region.
“On the one hand, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) gained unprecedented power and formed a enclave (in Syria), and on the other hand, Turkey was made to embrace some 3 million refugees while also facing a collapse in cross-border trade and tourism because of the border unrest,” says Savas Genc an expert in international relations at Fatih Univeristy. Genc believes that Ankara will in the long run choose to accept Assad in power, which is the precondition for many other issues vital to the economy and security of Turkey.
“In order for Ankara to make peace with Moscow and ensue stability in Syria while also containing the PKK threat against Turkey, Ankara needs to recognize Assad in power,” Genc says.
The Syrian civil war, which began with Ankara receiving a key position in the events that evolved in the country, has come to a stand-still with Turkey having virtually no ground in Syria to land on.
Ankara’s support of Syrian opposition and also its initial flirt with the Kurdish Democratic Unity Party (PYD) has produced little for Turkey’s long term strategies in the heart of the Middle East which eventually could push the Turks to dramatically change course in the country.
After all, peace in Syria means the return of millions of refugees from Turkey and more secure borders which Turkey desperately needs to revive its multi billion-dollar trade.
The reconstruction of the war-demolished Syria could also mean a recovery for the ailing Turkish economy with its huge construction sector waiting to rebuild its neighboring country.