While world powers try to simmer down tensions between Syria and Turkey, Turkey's heating things up. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan issued a stern warning to Syria Friday, saying "we're not far" from war, in a speech before a crowd in Istanbul. "Those who attempt to test Turkey's deterrence, its decisiveness, its capacity, I say here they are making a fatal mistake," he said. "We are not interested in war, but we're not far from it either."
Reuters described the address as "belligerent" while The Guardian dubbed it "muscular." To some inside Turkey, Erdogan is beating the war drums a little too loudly. “We are against the Assad regime, but we are also are against war with Syria. The conflict in Syria is an internal problem,” Turkish anti-war blogger Serhatcan Yurdam told The Guardian:
Erdogan will lose support if he becomes more hardline. Today he said he doesn’t care what people think, he thinks it [military operations against Syria] are legitimate.
We just hope there won’t be war against Syria. We are worried there will be more clashes near the border. The international community should urge Erdogan to stay calm.
While NATO has defended its ally's right to self-defense, the United Nations secretary general Ban ki-Moon has urged calm, while condemning Syria's mortar attacks on a Turkish town. In a positive sign, Turkish news site NTVMSNBC reports that the Syrian military has been ordered to stay 10 kilometers from Turkey's border. "The Syrian administration has told its military to keep aircraft at least 10km away from the Turkish border and to avoid artillery fire near the border," reads the report. "A number of Syrian warplanes which approached within 10km of the Turkish border despite this warning had been ordered to turn back immediately by Syrian authorities." The consensus view among military analysts is that Turkey will not escalate to the point of war, but Erdogan is doing his best to convey that Turkey is not to be messed with.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.