"...While Turkey has successfully contained internal sectarian unrest, its Syria policy is highly unpopular domestically, not least with its large Alevi and Kurdish populations. Feeling betrayed by Western failure to live up to promises of intervention or more support, Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has recalibrated its foreign policy in the past year. Its narrative has changed to include jihadi elements of the militant opposition in the growing list of security threats from Syria, along with the regime and its agents. In 2013, it reversed its all-out objection to engaging the Syrian Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD), linked to Turkey’s insurgent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and in March 2014, it let UN aid convoys cross into PYD-controlled areas when Syria finally opened one border crossing for UN humanitarian aid. In the bigger picture, Turkey wants to avoid prolonged military entanglement, but violent border clashes and occasional aerial confrontations with the regime increase risks of an escalation. Even so, extensive Turkish military intervention is unlikely without at least an international mandate and backing.The AKP leadership’s resolve to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gone stays strong, as does its support for the mainstream Syrian opposition. It hosts rebels and their families in well-built refugee camps, allows political and military opposition bodies to convene on its soil and gives logistical and material assistance. But Turkey has never been a main backer of the militant opposition inside Syria, and Gulf actors have gained more political influence. Still, involvement with the opposition’s main political body, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, helped garner support for Geneva II peace talks and ensure a degree of Kurdish representation. Turkey should use its leverage as a transit ground for supplies to rebel groups in northern Syria to encourage their compliance with international humanitarian law and non-sectarian practices. By maintaining open communication with regional counterparts, including Iran, Turkey should work reciprocally to de-escalate foreign involvement in the Syrian war and build an environment more conducive to peace...., ... Recommendations To the government of Turkey:
. Continue directly engaging Iran and other regional actors to find a political solution in Syria, including encouraging reciprocal steps from regional counterparts to achieve a mutual reduction in their involvement in the conflict and eventually end proxy warfare.
. Invigorate recent efforts to demonstrate greater sectarian and ethnic neutrality in foreign policy.
. Show zero tolerance to border breaches by jihadi elements, whether from or into Syria...."