Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

FASHION

Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more

ENCORE!

Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • Freed French journalists arrive home after Syria ordeal

    Read more

  • French journalist tells of release from captivity in Syria

    Read more

  • Divers begin pulling bodies from sunken South Korean ferry

    Read more

  • Syria’s Assad visits recaptured Christian town at Easter

    Read more

  • UK’s Hamilton cruises to victory at Chinese Grand Prix

    Read more

  • ‘Deadly clashes’ at Eastern Ukraine checkpoint

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • Militants kill Algerian soldiers in deadly ambush

    Read more

  • Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • PSG clinch fourth League Cup title after beating Lyon

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • In pictures: Good Friday celebrated across the globe

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

Middle east

Turkey approves Syria raids, but disapproves of war

©

Text by Leela JACINTO

Latest update : 2012-10-04

Turkey’s parliament has authorised military operations inside Syria following Wednesday’s deadly shelling of a Turkish town. But Turks have voiced their opposition to a war, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to have heard them.

The roar of war was getting louder over the past few weeks in Akcakale, a tiny Turkish town right on the Syrian border, with mortars crashing into buildings and the rumble of distant tank fire accompanying announcements from the local mosque warning residents to stay home.

That’s exactly what Zeliha Timucin was doing on Wednesday evening when her family was huddled in their modest Akcakale home. But the shelling got her – and her three daughters, as well as her sister – anyway.

In a matter of hours, Akcakale turned from nondescript border town to the focus of international attention.

As Turkish troops took up positions across the area, international news teams descended on the area to cover the funerals of the first Turkish civilians to be killed by Syrian fire since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

Turkey’s patience wearing thin

Suddenly, the drums of war turned deafening. Hours after the Syrian shelling, Turkey fired at positions inside Syrian territory in a clearly directed message to Syria and the international community: Turkey’s patience was running thin.

“The bombardment continued this morning,” said FRANCE 24’s Jasper Mortimer, reporting from the Turkish capital of Ankara early Thursday. “Turkey is signalling that last night’s retaliation was not simply a knee-jerk reaction. Turkey is very angry with Syria over its repeated violations of its borders.”

By noon, Turkey’s parliament had approved a bill extending authorisation for cross-border military operations. Originally intended for Turkish raids on Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq, the new bill included text that described Syrian military action in Turkey as a "serious threat".

Thousands of miles away, in Brussels and New York, the diplomatic drum rolls were also beating.

At a NATO meeting in Brussels called by member state Turkey, the 28-member military alliance issued a statement condemning Syria’s “flagrant breach of international law”, which represented a “clear and present danger to the security of one of its allies”.

In New York, Turkey asked the UN Security Council to take the "necessary action" to stop Syrian aggression.

‘We don’t want war’

But beyond the diplomatic tough talk and the occasional cross-border attack on Syrian positions, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hands are tied, with most Turks displaying little appetite for war or an escalation of a likely messy military conflict.

On Thursday, as parliamentarians were debating the bill on cross-border military operations, dozens of anti-war demonstrators protested near the parliament building chanting, "We don't want war".

In the commercial capital of Istanbul, around 5,000 people joined an anti-war protest, which rapidly turned into a demonstration against Erdogan’s AK Party.

"The AKP wants war, the people want peace," protesters chanted, followed by cries of, "No to war, peace right now."

Recent polls show a clear majority of Turks oppose a military intervention in Syria. The Turkish army is already stretched by its 28-year war against rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Turks have little appetite for a military occupation along the lines of the US-led missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Most experts agree that Turkey is not likely to declare an all-out war against Syria despite its military superiority.

“There will never be a war between Turkey and Syria because both countries have no interest in it,” said Fabrice Balanche, director of GREMMO (Groupe de Recherches et d'Etudes sur la Méditerrannée et le Moyen-Orient), a Paris-based think tank.

For its part, Syria has maintained that it does not want an escalation of violence with Turkey and in a letter delivered to the UN Security Council, Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja'afari offered his country’s “deepest condolences'' to the families of the victims and to Turkey.

Noting the relatively subdued Turkish response to the June 22 downing of a Turkish fighter jet by Syria, Balanche maintained that Turkey’s retaliatory bombings and calls for emergency meetings at NATO and the UN “are all ways for the Turks to show their discontent."

Lack of international ‘initiative’

A conservative Sunni Muslim, Erdogan has allowed Syrian rebels to set up bases in Turkish territory, although Turkey officially denies arming the rebels.

A tough-talking politician who grew up in the rough Kasimpasa neighbourhood of Istanbul, Erdogan has volubly heaped opprobrium on Assad’s crackdown on the Syrian uprising.

But he has also vocally complained about the desultory international backup he has received on the Syrian crisis.

In an interview with CNN before the UN General Assembly meeting last month, Erdogan said Washington “lacked initiative” in dealing with the issue. "Maybe it's because of the elections -- maybe it's because of the pre-election situation in the US,” he said.

Responding to Turkey’s retaliatory attacks on Syria Thursday evening, the US echoed international condemnation of the Syrian attack -- followed by calls for restraint.

Speaking to reporters in Washington Thursday, a US State Department spokeswoman said the US regarded Turkey's response to Syrian fire as “appropriate, proportionate and designed to deter any future violations of its sovereignty by Syria”.

Turkish moves to secure a safe zone at the UN have also met with resistance from Russia and China even as NATO has displayed no appetite to monitor and implement a no-fly zone, the way the alliance did during the 2011 Libyan uprising.

While NATO has been quick to condemn the Syrian shelling in Akcakale, Balanche notes that “nobody in NATO will risk the Syrian slippery slope.”

Line of fire along Turkey Syria border

 

Date created : 2012-10-04

  • TURKEY - SYRIA

    Turkey authorises military action after Syria clashes

    Read more

  • TURKEY - SYRIA

    Syrian mortar fire kills at least five inside Turkey

    Read more

  • SYRIA - TURKEY

    Syria's 'forgotten Kurds' grab the spotlight

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)