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Turkey: The Harbinger for Intervention in Syria

Turkey: The Harbinger for Intervention in Syria

As Turkey takes up the role of unilaterally declaring and policing its own but unofficial “no fly zone” as the self- anointed “keeper of peace”, the indications become glaringly clear that it is just a matter of time before the big guys come to town to “save” the Syrian people from the clutches of President Assad. It is obvious that while the American Presidential election is seemingly becoming a real contest, courtesy of Obama’s lacklustre performance in the first televised Presidential debate, Turkey has been handed the role of serving as the warden to keep an eye on Syria; and by so doing ratchet the stakes for the inevitable intervention in Syria. Seizing a civilian aeroplane for “breaching its airspace with military cargo”, Turkey could not have demonstrated any better, its intent to sublet a war with Syria.  (Photo: Abdulai Mansaray, author)

It is peculiarly interesting that following the seizure of the “military communications equipment”, Turkey has so far failed to display its booty for the world to see; leaving many cynics to describe it as a concoction aimed at buying into stakeholder portfolio in the region. With the waning influence of Iran on the scene, Turkey would like to be seen as a major player and new kid on the block in the Middle East. In response to last week’s action by Turkey, Syria retaliated by banning all Turkish flights from its airspace as from midnight on Saturday. For Syria to ban Turkish flights from its airspace in retaliation, suggests that there were no such bans between the countries before then in the first place.

Following the initial attack by Syria into Turkish territory, which in itself was provocative, the latter has been amassing troops on its borders “to protect its sovereignty”. The President of Turkey has been telling anyone and everyone who cares to listen, that his country has no intention to go to war with Syria. Meanwhile, it is playing host to the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army. This is like saying, “ar nor dae eat monkey but ar go drink de soup”. Turkey appears to be caught in the lights. What is playing out in the Syrian political landscape is the cold war in a digital format. Turkey is making every effort to rise up to the demands of its European and American masters. The country has been striving for over two decades, for an invitation to the European Dinner table for membership of the EEC. What Turkey fails to realise is the dilemma of the European Union. Though secular, it is a predominantly Muslim State. Most critics believe that having a Muslim country as a member of the European Union is a misnomer and can never be realised; considering that the religion is seen as a foreign import to Europe, and against the backdrop of the rise of Islamisation of the region. In spite of its illustrious history from the Byzantine to the Ottoman era, making Turkey a member of the high table is a risk that the EU may appear reluctant to hazard.

With the American elections just a few weeks to go, it is conceivable that it is only a matter of time before the armaments start rolling in for a full scale intervention; which many will see as the right course of action to stop the ever streaming rivulets of blood. With Turkey already playing landlord to the anti-Assad fighters, it will just be too happy to provide the corridor for that. The current trend in the region has been seen as very worrying recently; as Turkey intercepts a second passenger plane that was bound for Syria. The question is how long Assad will keep his sanity, if any, before unleashing a direct attack on Turkey for a full scale war with his neighbour?

Despite the apparent “good will” stance of Turkey to the Syrian people, even the most bankrupt political minds concede that it is playing with high stakes in this poker game. For starters, the country has been festered with its own internal trouble with the Kurds (PKK) in the north. An all out war with Syria will provide an unwelcome distraction, much to the advantage of the PKK who may be more likely to side with the brutal Assad regime. Secondly, with thousands of “Syrian refugees” streaming into the country by the hour, who is to say that these are all genuine refugees? Since 911, we have seen how Al-Qaeda has become the fastest growing brand from New York to Timbuktu. As a brand, it has become a synonym for every rebellion, war, attacks and even political opposition.

 We have also seen a pattern of behaviour here; in that Al-Qaeda and its associated brand tend to follow wherever the West intervenes to bring political change. They are just too happy to take advantage of the political vacuum that seems to be generated with every Western intervention. From Afghanistan, to Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and now Syria, Al-Qaeda seems to allow for the West to do the bull work of regime change; only for them to ride into town to claim the booty. The current Islamisation of the political structures in the Middle East play testament to this, as we see religious groups replace hitherto moderate groups in powerful positions. In Africa today, Mali is facing one of its gravest times as Al-Qaeda attempts to exchange tenancy agreements with the Tuaregs in the North. As predicted in my earlier articles, (without sounding prophetic), the region was always seen as one that will become a military bazaar for the lost, stolen and excess military hardware that were been siphoned out of Libya during its political recycling. It’s ironical to note how one regime change in one region can threaten an unfavourable one in another.

A new political envoy has just been sent to the Middle East, with a mandate to broker a peace deal in the Turkey debacle. As if we had not heard it before, the envoy, like Kofi Annan and many before him, sees no way to peace than at a round table. A political negotiation is the only way forward if peace is to return to the region. We have seen enough of that in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen to learn the lessons. But unlike the previous ones, Syria runs the risk of blowing wide open the whole phenomenon to new heights. The question is whether the West will have the appetite to undertake another intervention, against a backdrop of an ever receding recession. Will the West be ready to put another war on the credit card?

It is understandable to conclude that it was the people’s desire for political change that propelled the Arab Spring. But now that the changes have been rung in, you wonder why protests are fast becoming a favourite past time for people in the Middle East and right down to New York. To put it down to one factor will be reckless, but there is no denying the fact that the economic situations are not helping. The worsening economic situations are threatening whole countries of becoming charity cases, as bail outs upon bail outs fail to stop the trend. These bailouts have proved to be short term measures that will not keep the bailiffs away when they come calling in the future.

Like with Obama, new regimes in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt and Tunisia were seen with some audacity of hope; for the better. With these new regimes (by the way, it’s called regimes in the Middle East and Governments in the West), there was new found hope among the people. But the worsening economic situations the world over, it is plausible to not that such hopes are fast replaced by total disillusionment. It is no wonder that the people in Egypt are continually protesting against anything and everything; from the price of bread, the constitution, military power, to even the delay of the traffic lights to turn green. With the lack of job opportunities in the US, Europe and the world over, many have resorted to making protests a part of their CV for any prospective job opportunities. In the American Presidential elections, many are asking “where is the audacity of hope gone”? leaving Obama to justify why he deserves a second coming.  In the interest of humanity, we hope that Syria will not usher another Armageddon. (Far-fetched, I know).  What appears to be an internal unrest or civil war is just face value. With Russia and China in the BLUE corner and the US and Europe in the RED corner, taking the gloves off may just mark the beginning of the global warming of the cold war.

By the way, let’s keep the elections in Sierra Leone carnival.

Don’t forget to turn the lights out when you leave the room.

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  • This is a wonderful article.
    I like it very much.
    I will forward it to friends.
    Keep it up Soso!

    Your former college mate and Ora member.


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