Thursday, January 10, 2013

WINEP/ AIPAC fellow: "For Erdogan, Assad has to go, and fast!"

"...For Ankara, the Syrian conflict is a conflagration next door that needs to be extinguished now. Assad has to go, and fast. Many reasons drive the Turkish calculus. First, there is the uptick in Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) attacks. As soon as Ankara took sides against the Assad regime in August 2011, Damascus retaliated, allowing the Turks' archenemy, the PKK, and its Syrian franchise, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), to operate on its territory again.Iran, too, has acted to punish Turkey for its stance against Damascus. Only days after Ankara called for the ouster of the Assad regime in September 2011, Iran entered a truce with the PKK and its Iranian franchise, Party for Democratic Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), which it had been hitherto fighting. With this ceasefire, Tehran effectively secured the PKK's rear flank and freed its hand to target Turkey. Accordingly, the PKK has become a bigger menace to Turkey than it has been since the early 1990s
All this bodes poorly for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who wants to be elected as the country's next president in 2014, filling the seat of Turkey's founder and first president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Erdogan has almost all the stars aligned to achieve this goal. He has defanged Turkey's once staunchly secularist military, and tamed the once inveterately anti-Erdogan business community and media. The PKK is what stands between Erdogan and the Turkish presidency. If the Syrian crisis continues unabated, related PKK violence will take more Turkish lives, challenging Erdogan's authority further. In such an eventuality, political imperatives alone will drive Erdogan to an interventionist policy against the Assad regime. ..."

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