Rajab Erdogan's Syria policies - a big mess and a thundering failure

As Turkey continues its dirty war against Syria, Turks have become increasingly disillusioned by the troubles it has created at home.   Initially many Turks supported Erdogan's foreign policy of Syria, thinking it meant a similar change as in Egypt or Tunisia.  They have now realized they have been misled through wrong policies resulting in economic insecurity and instability within Turkey.  Mehment, a book seller at Istanbul says "What do we have to do with Syria?   The prime minister and his wife used to go there for tea and coffee."  In the wake of the anti-US protests around the Muslim world as a reaction to an American movie that insulted Prophet Muhammad (sw), it's more likely that Erdogan will lose greater support from the Turkish people and from Muslims around the world for his war against Syria and his collaboration with the West.

According to the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, majority of Turks are seeing Erdogan's foreign policy "as a direct result of Turkey’s aggressive posture against Assad."  It indicates Turkey's failure at two fronts - failing to get approval to join the EU and failing to play a pivotal role within the pan-Islamic world.  

A well-known Turkish journalist, Dogan Heper, mentions "Turkey’s Syria policy has failed, it has turned our neighbors into enemies."  

Turkey has been struggling to handle the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK since the 1980s.   The struggle has claimed thousands of lives ever since.   After Turkey became hostile toward Syria, Assad granted autonomy to certain Syrian Kurdish regions.   Syrian Kurds have therefore not given any support to the opposition.   This move by Assad has made the Kurds more ambitious and enthusiastic about an independent Kurdish homeland stretching across the Northern Kurdish belt of Turkey, Iraq and Syria.  The PKK has become more bold and a lot more active.   Turkey constantly fears that the PKK and Syrian Kurdistan could establish an alliance and declare independence in the Kurdish regions of Turkey and Syria.   Growing violent clashes are being reported between PKK (helped by Iraqi Kurds) and the Turkish forces.  The Kurdish situation gets still more messy for Turkey as Erdogan needs the help of Iraqi Kurdistan to get rid of Iraq's Shiia government and assist him with the problems at home involving the PKK .. a much needed help Erdogan is unlikely to get.   

Almost 200,000 Syrians have fled the attacks of the Al Qaeda mercenaries trained and sent to Syria by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.  They have been given asylum in Turkey, close to the Syrian border.   This has not only put pressure on Turkey's economy but also on its security along the borders.  The Turkish government grumbles that it has spent more than $250,000 for providing necessities to the refugees with no help from anywhere.  It might soon be compelled to accommodate asylum seekers within the interior regions of Turkey.  After so much hassle, Erdogan's Al Qaeda infiltrators have been quite comfortably defeated by the Syrian Army not only in the small border towns of Syria but also in big cities like Aleppo and Damascus.  Assad still remains firmly in control of his country.   But if Erdogan obstinately pursues his stance of stirring trouble in Syria, the refugee problem could get out of control in Turkey.  It could result in a fully-fledged sectarian war between the Sunni Salafists and the Alawite Shiias in Syria.  Erdogan needs to remember that there are no less than 3.5 million Alawite Shiias living in Turkey with relatives all over Syria.  In case of sectarian clashes in Syria, millions of Alawite Shiias would spill over into Turkey either to join their extended families or to live in refugee camps.   It would be a tough situation to handle both for the Turkish government and its people .. similar to the Afghan refugee problem in Pakistan in the 1980s that wrecked the infrastructure of the country forever.  

Embarrassed by the failure of Turkish policies involving Syria, the Turkish government began talking of a joint alliance between Turkey and Egypt headed by Mohamed Morsi.  That never materialized.  On the contrary, Egypt has been giving the impression of having its own ambitions of becoming the region's most influential power broker.   

Prior to the Syrian episode, Turkey was determined to overlook all sectarian differences within and outside the country.  But soon after Turkey began working with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and training Al Qaeda Salafists, it got zealously focused on sectarianism as a part of the Sunni block.  It has not just ruined its relations with its old neighbor next door, but Turkey has also soured its relations with Iran and Iraq by supporting Iraqi Sunnis against the government of Nuri Al-Malki.  Of course the prime issue that's turned Turkey from a friend into a rogue state towards Iran is Turkey's meddling in Syria.  The situation in Syria would never have deteriorated as much as it has if it wasn't for Turkey's destructive role.   Frankly, Erdogan had a good opportunity making a name in history by discarding the culture of sectarianism and promoting strong relations with the Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian leaderships.  Some positive developments were already made between Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq such as abolition of visa formalities.  More positive moves were eminent until Erdogan suddenly switched sides during the so-called Arab Spring of 2011 and instead decided to play Washington's 'obedient servant.'  

As we recall, A decade ago Erdogan's AK Party started off with a very cordial spirit reaching out to all its neighbors.  But it's now a very different story.   Turkey's much talked about vision of "no problem with neighbors" is history.   In addition to the threats involving the rising power of the PKK and flow of refugees from Syria, Turkey has problems with all its neighbors as a result of its failed policies in the region.  Not to mention of the dangerous consequences Turkey will certainly have to face from the presence of the Al Qaeda radicals whom its using as mercenaries in Syria, many of whom have already accepted Turkey as their home.

Quoting a Facebook group's perfect summary as a lesson for Turkey: "Respect sovereignty and leave your neighbor alone."


  1. Erdogan would not be embarrased, because he has nohonor or scrup;es. He is a missionary who is doing his job, obeying orders!!!

  2. Rajaab Erdogan is a seasoned munafiq. No sincere believer should even think of calling him a "Muslim." May this man get consumed in the flames of Hell alongside Pharaoh, Abu Lahab, Yazid, Saddam Hussein, Shah of Iran and his predecessor-mentor Mostafa Kemal "ataturk."