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If you have been following recent events in Syria you will know that Syrian government forces have been advancing on several fronts in western Syria.

You might also be aware that many Syrian rebel forces have been withdrawing northward towards the areas around (mostly north of) Aleppo and to northeastern Syria, east of the Euphrates.

People in Turkey are also aware of this and there has been increasing discussion about what this might mean for Turkey.

There is growing public apprehension that if Syrian rebel groups continue to lose cohesion and Syrian government forces continue to press northward it is very possible that Turkey might be faced with waves of armed former rebel fighters trying to cross the border into Turkey.

There is also great concern that these men will probably have radical views and agendas.

And there is anger and resentment that if this were to happen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and western countries will do nothing to help deal with the problem.

The Turkish government seems to be aware that this is a very real possibility, even though it has not commented on it publicly, and there are indications that the government is taking some unpublicized steps in preparation.

I have been hearing recently of an increasing number of incidents along the Turkish-Syrian border where Turkish police or soldiers have shot men who were trying to cross the border from Syria to Turkey. The justifications have been that these men were smugglers. I have also noticed that more restricitive measures are slowly being put into practice at the Turkish-Syrian border crossings and that the government is making plans to increase security at these border crossings.

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As a bizarre side note - I had a conversation with someone connected to the Syrian opposition this weekend. He insisted that the reason that the west, and Saudi Arabia, and Qatar were cutting their support for the rebels was because Turkey was their real target. Their real plan has been for the rebels to lose so that they will have to escape to Turkey, which will cause instability in Turkey and weaken the country.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

    by InAntalya on Tue May 21, 2013 at 12:14:59 PM PDT

  •  fascinating; thank you for this information (6+ / 0-)

    The Turkish angle had never occurred to me as I had been watching the struggle for hegemony between Iran and Saudi Arabia.  I had always considered the Turks to be something on the periphery of Arab nationalism and not so involved (This could have been a mistake on my part since my understanding of the genesis of Arab nationalism only dates to Nasser in any detail)

    I was aware the Turks had reached certain accommodations with Iran and Iraq also for that matter.  Is this the reason that Saudi Arabia would wish to cause the Turks headaches or is there a three sided competition for supremacy in the region?

    •  The Republic of Turkey has had a fairly simple (8+ / 0-)

      stance until recently. It is/was to be militarily strong enough to defend its borders, get along with neighboring countries as well as possible, and stay out of neighboring countries' affairs.

      Some believe that the current government has neo-Ottoman tendencies and is breaking with this tradition - that it has historic 'rights' to be involved in neighboring countries' affairs.

      This could be considered by some to be a third party to competion for influence in the region, but I don't take the view put forward by the Syrian opposition seriously.

      It is just another bizarre 'theory' put forward in order to justify their existance, wheedle support, and just stir things up.  I have heard many of these put forward by the western recognized opposition in the past 20 or so months.

      Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

      by InAntalya on Tue May 21, 2013 at 01:39:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have heard some of the talk about "Neo Ottomans" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        InAntalya, truong son traveler

        but gave it little credence as it appears Turkey is determined to remain as friendly with its neighbors as it is allowed to be in contentious times.

        When there have been incidents in the past such as with Kurdish rebel groups, Turkey always seemed to try to reach some accord with the other countries involved if possible.

        Thanks for the additional information

        •  There has been one recent development (5+ / 0-)

          regarding the PKK, the Kurdish terrorist organization.

          The current Turkish government has been working on what it calls the 'resolution process' with the PKK.

          It seems that the government has reached some agreement with the PKK where the PKK agreed to withdraw its fighters from Turkish territory to northern Iraq.

          The problem is that the Turkish government didn't think that there was any need to consult with the Iraqi government about this, and the Iraqi government has protested to the UN, I think to the Security Council.

          Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

          by InAntalya on Tue May 21, 2013 at 01:58:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Why would the West want to weaken Turkey? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya, Anne Elk

    It's a NATO member and one of America's staunchest allies. The US even refused to go to war with Turkey it WWI, even though it was allied with the Central Powers. It's  one of the few countries in the region that has proper (if somewhat cool) relations with Israel. It's one of the most modernized secularized societies in the Middle East. I can't understand why the West or Qatar for that matter would possibly want to weaken Turkey. The Saudis, well, their position and motives are never easy to identify, but I doubt this is a deliberate attempt to weaken Turkey. It may have that effect, but I sincerely doubt that Qatar, western countries generally and the US specifically would be purposely trying to weaken its greatest and most reliable ally in the region.

    Ceterum censeo Factionem Republicanam esse delendam.

    by journeyman on Tue May 21, 2013 at 01:26:56 PM PDT

  •  Turkey reaps what it sows; (3+ / 0-)

    my deepest sympathies to real Turks, most of whom didn't want this, and who deserve better.

    I hope they know to focus their outrage where it belongs: on the NATO toadies running their country.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Tue May 21, 2013 at 01:56:38 PM PDT

    •  Crap (0+ / 0-)

      Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

      by Anne Elk on Tue May 21, 2013 at 06:26:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Since I posted this diary I would like to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fire bad tree pretty

        object to your ineloquent, and as Kos puts it 'dickish', comment.

        Is it 'crap' that Turkey may be reaping what it sows (by helping to arm radicals),

        or that Corvo has sympathies to Turks,

        or that most Turks don't want this (helping to arm radicals and/or possibly having to deal with an influx of armed radicals),

        or that they deserve better,

        or that they focus their outrage where it belongs,

        or that there are 'NATO toadies' in their government?

        I have reservations about the terms 'real' and 'NATO toadies' used by Corvo, but your blanket single-word comment 'crap' adds absolutely nothing to the disscussion.

        Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

        by InAntalya on Tue May 21, 2013 at 10:56:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  If America is at war with Shia and Sunni (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya, PrahaPartizan

    We are in trouble.

  •  Isn't the strategic concern of Turkey (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya

    primarily the Kurdish question? Maybe I have this wrong, but I imagine that Turkey looks at the steady fragmentation of Iraq and the continuing disintegration of Syria, and presumably view with alarm the possibility of a Kurdistan on their south-eastern border. No?

    Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

    by Anne Elk on Tue May 21, 2013 at 06:30:56 PM PDT

    •  I believe that (0+ / 0-)

      the great majority of Iraqi Kurds are content with the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq (as set forth in the Iraqi constitution),

      and that the great majority of Kurds in Syria support the creation of a similar system in Syria,

      and that the great majority of Kurds in Turkey do not believe that an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey would bring any benefits to their lives. The social, economic and political conditions in southeastern and eastern Turkey today are essentially the same as those in the areas around Antalya, or most anywhere else in Turkey.

      As a result I do not believe that the 'Kurdish question' is now a real primary strategic concern for Turkey. It is now basically a false issue which some politicians use for their own agendas.

      Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

      by InAntalya on Tue May 21, 2013 at 11:30:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmm. The "the great majority" of Russians (0+ / 0-)

        probably preferred Kerensky's Duma to Bolshevik rule too. You can't always get what you want. Maybe this depends a lot on Iraq. If the country really does descend into all-out civil war, the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq may start to look more and more like an independent country. I'd imagine the Kurds will play very close to the line without stepping over it. We shall see.

        Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

        by Anne Elk on Wed May 22, 2013 at 07:28:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My sympathies are with the Turkish people (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya

    but we must remember that their government supplies the staging ground and facilitates the transfer of weapons and fighters as well as supplies intelligence information. Their country was not some innocent actor but was complicit in this from the beginning. I know that this was done against the wishes of the Turkish people - this adventure was extremely unpopular among Turks. But it doesn't change the involvement of their government. It seems to me that we only have a moment of democracy on election time when we elect our dictators.

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