In a news conference today, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to calm a frenzy of speculation about an impending war with Syria, insisting it is a war he doesn’t want. Erdogan’s comments reflect similar comments from NATO, Syria, and nations across the region, all of whom are hoping to see the potential powder-keg of a border war between them calmed down.
The message that this is a war no one wants apparently didn’t reach Turkey’s parliament, however, and it quickly and overwhelmingly approved a resolution today allowing the military to conduct unrestricted military operations inside Syria.
Turkey has been repositioning itself as a regional power for years, and with its overwhelming military edge over the Assad regime some measure of bellicosity isn’t surprising. Still, while Turkey seems comfortable in a role of facilitating the rebels in Syria, involving itself in a full-scale shooting war would turn an already dubious policy into a potential disaster, alienating nationalist factions in the rebellion, riling up Syria’s Kurdish community and ruining their already strained relationships with Iran and Iraq.
Ergodan seems to get this, and while the Turkish military continued to strike targets in Syria today, it seems virtually certain that the situation is calming down. What the parliament’s disconnect means for their relationship with the Turkish leadership, however, remains to be seen.
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