No magic Syrian solution

The background to Turkey’s current dilemmas with Damascus can be traced back to the ruins of the Ottoman Empire

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May 22, 2013 16:27
3 minute read.
Hands off Syria poster

Hands off Syria521. (photo credit: UMIT BEKTAS / REUTERS)

 
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Given the horrific violence in Syria and overall heightened instability throughout the region, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s grand design for a neo-Ottoman Middle East order, to be based on “zero problems” with its neighbors, sounds like a pipe dream, at best, and a bad joke, at worst. This was driven home anew by the deadly twin car bombings in the Turkish town of Reyhanli near the Syrian border on May 11, which claimed at least 46 lives, in what was apparently an act of retaliation by the Syrian regime for Turkey’s support for the opposition.

The background to Turkey’s current dilemmas regarding Syria can be traced back to the establishment of the modern Turkish state on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Kemal Atatürk demonstratively turned his back on the ex-empire’s Arabic-speaking lands, in favor of a secular, modern, West-centered orientation. But Istanbul also asserted itself at opportune times.

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