It was a week in which the Syrian conflict spilled over the Turkish border with deadly impact.
“Under what circumstances such a force would be deployed into Syria, is unknown. So there is an assumption that there was an attack … by Syria into Turkey. So this assumption is I believe [a] false assumption. So although nobody would like an escalation … it looks as if … the Turkish government, they do want to go to war.“
– Haldun Solmazturk, a retired brigadier-general
Five Turkish civilians were killed in mortar fire that originated from within Syria and the Turkish government responded by placing the country on a virtual war footing.
Recep Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, sought and got permission from parliament to take whatever military action is deemed necessary, including the deployment of forces into Syria.
In a rare show of unity, all members of the UN Security Council condemned the mortar attack but avoided any debate about invoking Chapter Seven which would allow economic sanctions and even military action.
There was also verbal condemnation from NATO but that is where it ended as there was no question of invoking Article 5 of NATO’s charter that would require all the organisation’s members to defend Turkey.
The international allies clearly signalled that if Turkey was going to take military action inside Syria it would do so alone.
“Turkey is trapped between national honour and national interest, the national honour required that Erdogan responded in some way that shows toughness and resolve and would intimidate the Syrians from further action across the border. On the other hand, the national interest is to stay out of Syria. Syria is a potential Vietnam for Turkey, it’s a swamp. It could suck Turkey in and cost Erdogan a great deal.“
– Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies
And what could complicate things further for the Erdogan government is the increasing domestic criticism.
The official opposition insists that what it describes as Ankara’s skewed support of the Syrian opposition has made the situation worse.
And in a warning to Damascus, Erdogan said that testing Turkey would be a “fatal mistake”.
“We are not interested in war, but we’re not far from it either. Those who attempt to test Turkey’s deterrence, its decisiveness, its capacity, I say here they are making a fatal mistake.”
So, with Turkey now essentially on war footing, is escalation inevitable?
Inside Syria, with presenter Mike Hanna, discusses the situation with guests: Yasar Yakis, a member of the Turkish parliament, a founding member of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party, also a former foreign minister and a former ambassador to the UN Office in Vienna, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia; Haldun Solmazturk, a retired brigadier-general; and Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies and an associate professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
“This one-sided policy, aiming to remove Bashar al-Assad by intervention in the domestic affairs of our neighbour, really intensified the conflict, sharpened the conflict, and probably resulted in more deaths than would have [occurred] otherwise.”
Faruk Logoglu, the head of Foreign Relations of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)