Dean Rohrer

Turkey’s Lonely Neighborhood Watch

As turbulent events in the Middle East have unfolded, Turkey has found itself caught between its relationship with its Western allies, and its traditional regional alliances. But its reluctance to enter the fray in Syria exposes the limits of its unilateral approach to regional diplomacy.

ISTANBUL – For nearly a decade, Turkey benefited from a strategic environment that allowed it to raise its profile, widen its zone of autonomous action, and aspire to regional power in the Middle East.

So, now, as the slaughter in Syria continues, those who want to stop the bloodletting look to Turkey. After futile attempts to convince Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to begin a transition to a more open system, the Turkish government has unequivocally called for Assad’s departure, and is actively trying to secure a legitimate framework for intervention.

Turkey has a 900-kilometer (560-mile) border with Syria, close social ties, and what seems to be a well-developed intelligence network. If the international community finds a legitimate way to intervene in Syria, Turkey’s military contribution to any operation would be assumed. But, despite tremendous pressure from its allies and others, Turkey is unlikely to intervene unilaterally, or to arm the rebel army on its territory.

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