Turkey Threatens Syria
Turkey gave a warning to Syria today with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan telling parliament that if the latter country’s troops approached the border, they would be considered a military threat. Syria downed a Turkish jet last week and fired on a recovery operation that was attempting to rescue the lost pilots, whose plane went down over the Eastern Mediterranean. Erdogan had stern words for Syria, asserting that “this incident shows that Syria has become an open threat to Turkey, so we have come to a brand new level…Any military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria by posing a security risk and danger will be regarded as a threat and treated as a military target.” NATO also condemned the incident, but Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen indicated his expectation that the situation will not escalate any further.
The USAK Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies has released a report entitled “Turkey’s Power Capacity in the Middle East,” which explores the actual strength and influence of Turkey in the region. The report concludes that there is a discrepancy between the role Turkey wishes to exercise and its actual capacity to do so.
Meanwhile, Israel is hosting Russian president Vladimir Putin, with a major topic of discussion being the crisis in Syria. Israel is concerned with Syrian instability and the possibility of weapons ending up in the hands of Hezbollah as a result. Israeli president Shimon Peres also expressed disgust with the Syrian regime, saying that “Assad stopped being an alternative when he started firing at his children…None of us can tolerate coffins filled with the bodies of children. That’s beyond politics.” For his part, Putin stated that he is “not obligated to Assad, but Russia and Syria have strategic relations.”
Mohammad Ataie writes in The Guardian that Iran is attempting to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria, despite its continued attachment to Bashar al-Assad. “Iran is not on the same side of the Syrian conflict as the US and its allies,” Ataie said, “but it does have a big stake in ending the bloodshed and finding a political solution to the crisis. This is common ground that should not be ignored in any genuine initiative to stop the unrelenting bloodshed and in beginning the implementation of reform in Syria. Kofi Annan has also expressed a desire to see Iran involved in talks toward ending the bloodshed in Syria, but will ultimately leave it up to the U.S. and Russia.
Today Syrian rebels and Republican Guard forces continue to clash outside Damascus, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting that six have been killed in heavy fighting.