Turkey walks political tightrope

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks to supporters during a rally in Istanbul on April 14, 2018. (Yasin Bulbul/Pool Photo via AP)
Updated 15 April 2018
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Turkey walks political tightrope

  • Erdogan welcomeS coalition air strikes in response to Assad’s “inhumane attacks”
  • Turkey also wants to push ahead with Astana talks on Syria

ANKARA: The coalition strike against Syrian targets has made Turkey’s policy of balancing Russia and the Western powers more challenging. 

Having welcomed the airstrikes, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that Ankara considers the operation by the US, Britain and France to be an appropriate response. 

“We welcome this operation which has eased humanity’s conscience in the face of the attack in Douma, largely suspected to have been carried out by the regime,” the statement said, adding that crimes involving the use of chemical weapons should not go unpunished. 

Turkish Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar spoke to his US counterpart Jim Mattis before the strikes. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also welcomed the coalition’s air strikes in response to Assad’s “inhumane attacks.”

Galip Dalay, research director at Al-Sharq Forum in Istanbul, described Turkey’s response as “more of a moral reaction ... than a political reaction with practical consequences.” 

“Under normal circumstances, Turkey would have supported any anti-Assad action wholeheartedly and would have sought to take part in it. Yet it isn’t sure of the US commitment as regards the regime change agenda,” he told Arab News. 

Nevertheless, experts believe the airstrikes will not disrupt the Astana de-escalation process in Syria that was brokered last year between Ankara, Moscow and Tehran. 

Dalay said Turkey seems reluctant to part ways with its Astana agreement partners over any action that would not have a dramatic impact on the regime’s hold of Syria.

Oytun Orhan, a Syria expert at Orsam, an Ankara-based think-tank, agreed. “Turkey will manage the situation diplomatically as long as the scope of the operation remains limited. If the conflict turns into one between the US on the one hand and Iran and Russia on the other, then it will become more difficult for Turkey to maintain this position. In such a case, Turkey will need to take a more clear stance,” he told Arab News. 

According to Orhan, the current level of the operations is in Turkey’s interest by sending a message to Assad and Iran, creating pressure on them for a political settlement and counter-balancing Tehran. 

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Bekir Bozdag, announced on Saturday that the Incirlik air base, which also holds US nuclear weapons, was not used in the airstrikes on Syria. 


OIC condemns Israel’s nation-state law as racist and illegal

OIC Secretary General Yousef Bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2018
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OIC condemns Israel’s nation-state law as racist and illegal

JEDDAH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned the Israeli Knesset’s approval of the “Jewish nation-state” law, which declares that only Jews have the right to self-determination in the country.
The OIC labeled the move as a blatant challenge to the will of the international community, its laws and its legitimate resolutions.
The Secretary-General of the Organization, Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, described the law as racist, unlawful and illegitimate.
“It ignores the historical rights of the Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian, and represents an extension to the Israeli settlement ideology and occupation policies, based on ethnic cleansing and denial of the existence of Palestinian people and history, highlighted by International resolutions,” he said.
He called on the international community to reject and condemn the racist law and to confront all Israeli racist laws and policies that aim to undermine any possible solution to the conflict.