USA 2012: Ankara hopes new President will defeat Assad

Erdogan frustrated by Obama's alleged passivity on Syria

05 November, 16:06

UN General Assembly [ARCHIVE MATERIAL 20110920 ] UN General Assembly [ARCHIVE MATERIAL 20110920 ]

(ANSAmed) - ANKARA, NOVEMBER 5 - Whatever the outcome of the US general election, Turkey is pinning its hopes on the new President finally defeating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to local media reports.

Turkey's Islamic Nationalist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised the US of late for sidelining Syria in favour of the US election campaign. ''Ankara has fixed its gaze on the US election campaign, on which the future of Syria could depend'', runs the headline of one Turkish daily, Zaman. Although the vast majority of Turks oppose military intervention in Syria, analysts say that Erdogan wants to impose an area of restricted airspace in the Country as well as protected areas managed by Syrian rebels. When a Turkish fighter jet was shot down on the Syrian coast in June, Erdogan is reported to have urged President Obama to lead coalition against Damascus, to no success. Since then tensions have continued.

A mortar attack in Akcalkale which killed five and was fired from Syrian territory saw Turkey amass troops and tanks along the border. For Erdogan the Syrian crisis has played out along the worst possible lines. Turkey had bet on Assad's swift defeat - as per the rest of the Arab Spring - and a Sunni leader being elected in his place. His predictions were wrong. 40% of the population still support Assad and his regime is bolstered by Kurdish neutrality. Now more than 100,000 mostly Sunni refugees have arrived on Turkey's majority Alawite borders, triggering internal tensions.

Crisis in Turkish Kurdistan has exploded yet again.

Separatists from the PKK are 'armed by Damascus', claims Ankara.

And on the home front Turkey's relations with Iran and Russia, its two biggest neighbours, and supporters of Damascus, are strained.

Turkish politics is fracturing under the pressure too.

Opposition leader Kemal Kilicadaroglu even called Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu ''an idiot''.

Observers doubt that a new US president will lead an intervention in Syria that could be potentially explosive for the Middle East.

According to analyst Omer Taspinar, one of the biggest fears regarding the Syrian rebels, a growing number of which have linked to Al Qaeda, is a repeat of Afghanistan. There the US initially supported Islamist insurgents in overthrowing the pro-Soviet government, only to pave the way much later for the Taliban. (ANSAMed).

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