MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK

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MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK
June 28, 2012, Thursday

Neither at peace nor at war

Although almost a week has passed since Syria downed a Turkish military jet, the crisis between the two countries has not eased in the least. Turkey had a tough response to the Syrian attack, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will treat any approaching Syrian military unit as a threat.

According to Bugün’s Gültekin Avcı, the Turkish government will not be content with an apology or compensation from Syria. It will carry out an attack on Syria in the event of an airspace violation even by the slightest degree. Quoting from Syrian National Council (SNC) executive committee member Mahmud Osman, Avcı says: “Turkey launching a military operation in Syria would be like an adult slapping a 10-year-old boy; there will be no use in that.” Avcı thinks this is a correct simile because Syria, as long as it is ruled by President Bashar al-Assad’s government, is not in a state to act rationally or learn from its mistakes.

Nagehan Alçı from the Akşam daily thinks there are several reasons why Assad shot down the jet. One of them is that Assad aims to drag his country into a war so that he can show himself as “a leader who defends his country” instead of “an ousted leader” -- which current conditions indicate he might soon become. It is not that Syria has a chance of beating Turkey; rather Assad will have a chance to improve his image in his people’s eyes. The second reason for downing the jet, Alçı says, is to send a message to the world that Assad will resist and strive to remain in power no matter what. However, the she says Assad has nothing to lose, so shooting down the jet might even be regarded as a smart move by him while Turkey has much to lose and the government is, thank God, aware of that. That is why Erdoğan’s speech on Tuesday had a tough and decisive tone but was far from favoring a military operation in Syria.

Sedat Laçiner, on the other hand, warns that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will definitely use this tension between the two neighbors to escalate its acts of terror, especially now that senior Syrian PKK leader Fehman Hussein has more power than any other leader of the PKK. Syria’s downing of the military jet is an open attack on Turkey, but Syria has been carrying out covert attacks on Turkey by supporting and sheltering PKK militants. Now that its hostile stance towards Turkey has been exposed, Syria’s support for the PKK will definitely increase. Therefore now, more than ever, Turkey needs to take more measures against terrorist activities, he argues.

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