In recent days, there have been persistent rumors that we could potentially be on the verge of a military conflict between Syria and Turkey. As impossible as such a thing may have seemed just a few months ago, it is now a very real possibility. Over the past several months, we have seen the same kind of “pro-democracy” protests erupt in Syria that we have seen in many of the other countries in the Middle East. The Syrian government has no intention of being toppled by a bunch of protesters and has cracked down on these gatherings harshly. There are reports in the mainstream media that say that over 1,300 people have been killed and more than 10,000 people have been arrested since the protests began. Just like with Libya, the United States and the EU are strongly condemning the actions that the Syrian government has taken to break up these protests. The violence in Syria has been particularly heavy in the northern sections of the country, and thousands upon thousands of refugees have poured across the border into neighboring Turkey. Syria has sent large numbers of troops to the border area to keep more citizens from escaping. Turkey has responded by reinforcing its own troops along the border. Tension between Turkey and Syria is now at an all-time high. So could we actually see a war between Syria and Turkey?
A few months ago anyone who would have suggested such a thing would have been considered crazy. But the world is changing and the Middle East is a powder keg that is just waiting to explode.
Since the Syrian government began cracking down on the protests, approximately 12,000 Syrians have flooded into Turkey. The Turkish government is deeply concerned that Syria may try to strike these refugees while they are inside Turkish territory.
Troop levels are increasing on both sides of the border and tension is rising. One wrong move could set off a firestorm.
The government of Turkey is demanding that Syrian military forces retreat from the border area.
The government of Syria says that Turkey is just being used to promote the goals of the U.S. and the EU. Syria also seems to be concerned that Turkey may attempt to take control of a bit of territory over the border in order to provide a “buffer zone” for refugees coming from Syria.
What makes things even more controversial is that the area where many of the Syrian refugees are encamped actually used to belong to Syria. In fact, many of the maps currently in use inside Syria still show that the area belongs to Syria.
War between Syria and Turkey has almost happened before. Back in the 1990s, the fact that the government of Syria was strongly supporting the Kurds pushed the two nations dangerously close to a military conflict.
Today, the border between Syria and Turkey is approximately 850 kilometers long. The military forces of both nations are massing along that border. One wrong move could set off a war.
Right now, it almost sounds as though the U.S. government is preparing for a war to erupt in the region.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently stated that the situation along the border with Turkey is “very worrisome” and that we could see “an escalation of conflict in the area”.
Not only that, but when you study what Clinton and Obama have been saying about Syria it sounds very, very similar to what they were saying about Libya before the airstrikes began.
In a recent editorial entitled “There Is No Going Back in Syria“, Clinton wrote the following….
Finally, the answer to the most important question of all — what does this mean for Syria’s future? — is increasingly clear: There is no going back.
Syrians have recognized the violence as a sign of weakness from a regime that rules by coercion, not consent. They have overcome their fears and have shaken the foundations of this authoritarian system.
Syria is headed toward a new political order — and the Syrian people should be the ones to shape it. They should insist on accountability, but resist any temptation to exact revenge or reprisals that might split the country, and instead join together to build a democratic, peaceful and tolerant Syria.
Considering the answers to all these questions, the United States chooses to stand with the Syrian people and their universal rights. We condemn the Assad regime’s disregard for the will of its citizens and Iran’s insidious interference.
“There is no going back”?
“Syria is headed toward a new political order”?
It almost sounds like they are already planning the transitional government.
The EU has been using some tough language as well.
A recent EU summit in Brussels issued a statement that declared that the EU “condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing repression and unacceptable and shocking violence the Syrian regime continues to apply against its own citizens. By choosing a path of repression instead of fulfilling its own promises on broad reforms, the regime is calling its legitimacy into question. Those responsible for crimes and violence against civilians shall be held accountable.”
If you take the word “Syrian” out of that statement and replace it with the word “Libyan” it would sound exactly like what they were saying about Gadhafi just a few months ago.
The EU has hit Syria with new economic sanctions and it is also calling on the UN Security Council to pass a resolution condemning the crackdown by the Syrian government.
It seems clear that the U.S. and the EU want to see “regime change” happen in Syria.
The important thing to keep in mind in all of this is that Turkey is a member of NATO. If anyone attacks Turkey, NATO has a duty to protect them.
If Syria attacked Turkey or if it was made to appear that Syria had attacked Turkey, then NATO would have the justification it needs to go to war with Syria.
If NATO goes to war with Syria, it is very doubtful that Iran would just sit by and watch it happen. Syria is a very close ally to Iran and the Iranian government would likely consider an attack on their neighbor to be a fundamental threat to their nation.
In fact, there are already reports in the international media that Iran has warned Turkey that they better not allow NATO to use their airbases to attack Syria.
So if it was NATO taking on Syria and Iran, who else in the Middle East would jump in?
Would Russia and China sit by and do nothing while all of this was going on?
Could a conflict in the Middle East be the thing that sets off World War III?
Let’s certainly hope not.
More war in the Middle East would not be good for anyone.
Unfortunately, tensions are rising to frightening levels throughout the region. Even if things between Syria and Turkey cool off, that doesn’t mean that war won’t break out some place else.
Riots and protests continue to sweep across the Middle East and the entire region has been arming for war for decades.
Eventually something or someone is going to snap.
When it does, let us just hope that World War III does not erupt as a result.