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October 09, 2012, Tuesday

Will we go to war in Syria?

Tensions between Syria and Turkey continue to escalate, with the two countries exchanging cross-border fire for almost a week.

The Turkish government has been given the green light to send troops into Syria if it decides such action is needed. The question Turkish columnists are trying to answer now is whether Turkey plans to do so.

“A war with Syria would not be about defeating Syria. It would carry with it serious risks that Turkey and the rest of the region would be dragged into new problems. Reducing the situation to ‘a problem with [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad’ would mean ignoring the complexity of the region,” Sami Kohen of the Milliyet daily wrote.

Kohen says there are two possible aims behind the recent spillover of Syrian shelling into Turkey: Either Assad wants to drag Turkey into a war or he wants to quash the rebels along the Turkish-Syrian border, which would also deter Turkey from supporting the opposition fighters. Kohen thinks Assad cannot be so crazy as to want a war with Turkey at such a critical time but believes Assad may have taken the risk of starting a war just to take out the opposition fighters along the border. But has Turkey also taken a risk of going to war? Kohen says that although Ankara certainly does not want such a war, it is prepared for every possibility.

Bugün’s Gültekin Avcı asks another question in his article: “If the worst case scenario happens and a war breaks out, then with which country or countries will we find ourselves at war?” If it would only be Syria, then we wouldn’t be in such a complicated situation today. But Syria is a place in which the axis of Russia, China and Iran is playing a critical game of chess with Western actors.

Sedat Laçiner meanwhile ponders the ways in which Turkey could overcome the crisis with Syria in his article in the Star daily. He first says that all of Turkey’s political opposition parties should stop using the Syrian issue as an instrument to attack the government because the government’s Syria policy essentially aims to protect all of Turkey and not just the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) alone. The opposition parties should be well aware of this distinction. Secondly, he says Turkey should keep all options, including meeting with Assad, on the negotiating table with Syria. If we can discuss meeting with terrorists today, then there should not be anyone with whom we cannot sit and talk for the sake of our country’s security, Laçiner notes.

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