Turkish-Syrian Relations: A Checkered History | Middle East Policy Council
3 (April ), guiadeayuntamientos.info?p=; Ahmet Davutoğlu, Before the rise of the AKP, the Turkish–Syrian relationship was affected by. a UN resolution against Syria. Syria's June. downing of a Turkish reconnaissance plane was possibly a warning to Turkey that military intervention in Syria. of the post conflict in Syria for the relationship between Turkey's Syria in mid led to the gaining of control of major border towns.
Senior Syrian officials and, later, Hezbollah leaders were implicated in Hariri's death as a result of investigations by a UN commission and tribunal. Meanwhile, trade with other Middle Eastern countries increased.
During the mids, it accounted for about 8 percent of Turkey's total trade; by the early s, it had risen to over Turkey and Syria continued their disputes over water rights and Syria's sheltering of "terrorists. This reasoning has obviously benefited the Turks. The Euphrates is shared by Turkey, Syria and Iraq in approximately the following respective percentages: Turkish concerns about the use of the Asi [Orontes] River, which begins in Lebanon and flows primarily through Syria before emptying into the Mediterranean in Turkey's Hatay province, were ignored until the last decade by Syria due to the disputed nature of the latter territory.
In order to reduce their respective dependency on imported fossil fuels, Turkey and Syria have both engaged in recent decades in developing hydroelectric projects, including dams and power plants, the most ambitious of which is the former's Southeastern Anatolia Project GAP formally begun in The region affected covers eight Turkish provinces on or near the borders of Syria and Iraq, comprising 9.
Ten percent of the country's population inhabits the region, about two-thirds of whom are Kurdish speakers. For Turkey, these developments are seen as a means to develop agriculture and industry in the southeast, raising the economic status of the poorest part of the country. AfterGAP was regarded as a means to help defeat the Kurdish insurrection, despite the fact that thousands of people have had to be relocated.
The oil resources are [the Arabs]. We do not say we share their oil resources; they cannot say they share our water resources. Nevertheless, Turkey held bilateral and trilateral meetings with its neighbors over water-allocation issues, never fully to the satisfaction of Syria or Iraq. Aside from harboring the PKK within its territory or in Lebanon's Beqaa Valley until the Adana Agreement of OctoberSyria was reluctant to "eschew taking up the Turkish challenge while still in a state of war with Israel.
- Syria and Turkey: A Complex Relationship
- Turkish-Syrian Relations: A Checkered History
There are still no formal criteria or a treaty between Turkey and Syria for sharing the waters of the Tigris-Euphrates Basin. However, as Turkish-Israeli relations foundered a little over three months before the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, part of the Gaza Flotilla to challenge Israel's blockade GazaTurkey and Syria announced in February that they would jointly construct a "friendship dam" on the Asi Orontes River in Hatay.
Turkey's pro-Arab tilt during the s and early s brought it economic benefit. However, with the drop in oil prices during the mids, Libya, one of Turkey's largest trading partners, canceled numerous construction projects and expelled Turkish and other foreign workers.Turkey considers Syria buffer zone
At the same time, not one country in the Muslim world recognized the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus when it was established in ; nor had the Arabs been supportive of the plight of ethnic Turks in Bulgaria during the mid- to lates. Syria had been providing assistance to the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia ASALAwhich had been engaging in terrorism against Turkish institutions, diplomats and citizens, as well as to Turkish Marxists since the s.
Following its invasion of Lebanon inIsrael provided Turkey with documentary evidence of its support, which included military training, and even handed over some captured terrorists.
It also provided military and logistical assistance in the former two countries. While other regional countries provided varying degrees of support to the PKK, Syria was the most active and dangerous to Turkish national security. Therefore, in JanuaryTurkey accused Syria of committing aggression and asserted that it was entitled under Article 51 of the UN Charter to adopt measures of self-defense.
Less than a month later, the Turks signed a secret "Military Cooperation and Training Agreement" with Israel that was acknowledged in April Turkey became the eleventh state and only NATO member to recognize Palestinian statehood in November ; and following the Gulf War in Decemberit upgraded relations with Israel to ambassadorial-level, just a few days after abstaining in a vote to repeal UN General Assembly Resolutionequating Zionism with racism.
After all, Israel signed a Declaration of Principles in September and a peace treaty with Jordan in Octoberand many countries including the People's Republic of China and India, recognized the Jewish state for the first time.
Turkey's minister of tourism visited Israel inthe first cabinet-level official to do so in 27 years, while Turkey's foreign minister did the same the following year. As for the Military Cooperation and Training Agreement mentioned above, Turkey asserted in public that it was not directed against any third parties; yet the timing was not coincidental as far as the Syrians were concerned.
Duringdissatisfied with Syria's attitude, Turkey engaged in "military coercion without the direct application of force. Syria capitulated as some high-ranking government officials felt that Syria would not only lose in a war with Turkey; Israel would benefit. Under the Adana Agreement, Syria recognized the PKK as a terrorist organization and agreed to end all assistance to it. The PKK instituted a unilateral ceasefire in September that lasted almost five years. About 40, people have died in the conflict which has intensified recently in southeastern Turkey on both sides of the Iraqi border.
Egypt had acted as an intermediary between Syria and Turkey during the crisis and, with other countries in the Arab world, was suspicious of the intent of the Turkish-Israeli Military Cooperation and Training Agreement, which called for joint training and military exercises.
The United States, Turkey and Israel were unable to assuage the distrust, but they had success with Jordan, which was invited to send an observer to joint naval exercises code-named "Reliant Mermaid" in January Turkey subsequently agreed to further military exchanges with Jordan, and relations have gotten closer over the last decade.
Turkey's ties with Syria were strengthened, especially after the AKP came to power in Novemberas were those with Lebanon.
After Since taking office inthe AKP "has shrewdly used an assertive foreign policy to enhance Turkey's status as an actor and power on the world stage" and to consolidate its popularity at home. It has done so by emphasizing three themes: Turkey was interested in starting accession talks with the EU, which began inbut nevertheless felt betrayed. The third theme is evinced by Turkey's continuing export trade to Europe and its expanding trade and investment in the Middle East, which has resulted in an economic growth rate averaging above 6 percent since This had been possible because existing "state strategies" have not been challenged, and "Islamic references and symbols [have been kept] out of Turkey's public diplomacy.
It engages in diplomacy with Hamas, but it also supports a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has maintained diplomatic relations and a free-trade agreement ratified in with the Jewish state. It only expelled the Israeli ambassador and his deputy and froze military contracts in September following the release of the UN's Palmer Report on the Gaza Flotilla Raid of May and Israel's refusal to apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish citizens during that event.
Protestors, encouraged by events in Tunisia and Egypt, challenged the oppressive rule of Bashar al-Assad, who had succeeded his father in The Syrian government employed the full force of its military, killing at least 13, people, imprisoning some 90, and driving more than 50, to seek refuge in Turkey.
In addition,people have been displaced inside Syria. Whether Turkey and Syria have resolved or merely set aside two out of three issues — water and Hatay — is debatable; such is not the case with the property disputes, for which there is a formal agreement. It is obvious that, with the construction of the "friendship dam" mentioned above, Turkey and Syria are satisfied with the distribution of water resources.
As for Hatay, it is clear that Syria cannot reclaim the territory; but, as long as Turkish-Syrian relations are friendly and politically and economically productive, the issue seems to have been downplayed. Reportedly within that document is a minor clause recognizing the two countries' de facto border. Over the next year, Syria detained and extradited to Turkey 20 people wanted in connection with bombings against synagogues and British interests in Istanbul. In, Syrians visited Turkey, while 1.
In an interview in The Wall Street Journal in JanuaryPresident Assad stated that Turkey was "a model [of investment] because we have the same society and similar traditions. According to Assad, After that, Syria, and especially Turkey, went crazy because Olmert deceived them. He told them, "I am going back to Israel to think about how to solve this peace issue," but he went to war instead and killed one thousand five hundred Palestinians.
That is how close we were. As a result of the war, Turkey's relations with Israel went downhill very quickly. Ironically, so too did Turkish-Syrian relations within months of Assad's interview. Turkey has been proactive, at first in trying to get Assad to initiate political reform and end the use of violence against his fellow citizens, and later to give political support to opponents of his regime.
The Arab states, Turkey and the rest of the world waited fruitlessly for close to two weeks to see if Assad would act in good faith regarding the November 2,Arab League peace plan. He was exhorted to end the bloodshed by withdrawing the army from cities and towns, allowing press, human-rights activists and the Arab League to monitor events, and by releasing political prisoners.
He was also to begin dialogue with the opposition that might lead to democratic change. Mehmet Ali Birand in the Istandbul newspaper Posta wrote: Today Al-Assad seems to be in control of the situation, as he seems to have managed to unite his supporters. Even Ankara, which until a short time ago was saying Al-Assad "will fall in a few weeks," is now talking about a period of several years.
In short, it seems the calculations have been wrong. The Arab League's task is to follow up the implementation of the agreement and seek other options if there are any obstacles in the way. The task for the regional and international powers is to support the Arab solution and prevent any agendas to abuse any loopholes in the Arab solution and any rush to an international solution. As mentioned earlier, the crisis in Syria began in March as security forces shot at and arrested peaceful protestors who made demands for political freedom and an end to corruption.
On June 12,Turkey held parliamentary elections that returned the AKP to power for a third term, with about 50 percent of the vote. I greet with affection the peoples of Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Amman, Cairo, Tunis, Sarajevo, Skopje, Baku, Nicosia and all other friends and brother peoples who are following the news out of Turkey with great excitement.
Syria and Turkey: A Complex Relationship | PBS NewsHour
We will become much more active in regional and global affairs. We will take on a more effective role.
We will call, as we have, for rights in our region, for justice, for the rule of law, for freedom and democracy. Turkey had endorsed the peaceful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, but it called for political reform in Libya and Syria, having greater patience with the leaders of those states than the Western powers did. The Turks had a large amount of trade and investment in Libya and Syria. Indeed, Syria was Turkey's largest trading partner and a country that the Turks hoped would keep some distance from Iran.
We still count on this existing regime, which is expected to start seriously thinking about a new strategy to address the demands of the Syrian population. No one can do anything on Syria without Turkey…. I don't think that military action against Syria is likely, but the process might lead to an embargo, isolation and a Saddam-like situation for Assad. Although it was hinted that those measures would be military and commercial in nature and would target the Syrian government, not its people, no specifics were revealed.
It is impossible to preserve my friendship with people who are allegedly leaders when they are attacking their own people. Turkey immediately evacuated nonessential diplomatic staff and family members from Syria and issued a travel warning to Turkish citizens. The Syrian government has referred to the FSA and other groups who have taken up arms against them as "terrorists" and claims that Turkey — along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia — has provided financial support for acquiring weapons.
Turkey has emphatically denied these allegations. This caused Turkey to once again consider the possibility of establishing a buffer zone just over its border with Syria for humanitarian purposes. Conclusion The current ceasefire and Annan's six-point plan, designed to resurrect the unsuccessful Arab League program of Novemberare still works in progress.
Russia and China eventually approved a Security Council resolution on April 21 to send ceasefire observers to Syria, but it lacks any mechanism to insure Assad's compliance and spreads blame for the current crisis to include armed groups in the opposition.
While Iran is providing financial assistance, Assad's government has to dig deeply into its hard-currency cash reserves. Syria has lost its oil revenue and tourist industry, and banks are unable to provide letters of credit for imports. Turkey, the Arab world and the West are losing patience. Turkey is preparing itself for that eventuality by giving political support to the Syrian National Council and by emphasizing that the current crisis only reflects the strained relations between governments, not people.
Assisted by the changed political and economic conditions of the post-Cold War era, Turkey's leaders have mastered personal and creative diplomacy, reduced visa and trade barriers, and removed the military from foreign policy decisions, greatly improving Turkey's image in the region.
Relations with Israel and the European Union, especially over the Cyprus and Kurdish issues, are still problematic, but reconcilable — as are those with Armenia. Turkey has gone from being perceived by its Middle Eastern neighbors as an agent of the West to being regarded as a partner in political, economic and cultural cooperation. Analysis of Views of U. Martin's Press,appendix One of the signs reads: This self-annexation was never recognized by Syria, which continues to show the Hatay Province of Turkey as part of Syria's territory on maps.
The Turks remember Syria as a former Ottoman vilayet. Inthe Turkish Army went into the former Syrian Mediterranean province with French approval and expelled most of its Alawite Arab and Armenian inhabitants.
This referendum has been labeled both "phoney" and "rigged", and that it was a way for the French to let Turks take over the area, hoping that they would turn on Hitler. Water politics[ edit ] Water disputes have been a major source of conflict as Turkey has constructed several dams on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers as part of the Southeastern Anatolia Project - GAP to develop the region. This project, however, would seriously reduce Syrian water resources. In addition to this, Euphrates and Tigris are not the only rivers that tangles Turkish-Syrian relations, the water distribution of Orantes River which pours into Mediterranean from the province of disputed Hatay also rises problems between two states.
Islamists look at the secular state which buried the caliphate and think 'betrayal'; and Arab nationalists still haven't forgotten that Turks are their former colonial rulers. A senior Turkish diplomat confirmed that, "The main topic on the agenda and the goal of the visit is the maintenance of momentum that has built up in bilateral relations within the last decade. We in Turkey are also ready. If President al-Assad wants peace, why is he shy? We suggested direct talks many times.
He thinks direct talks are a prize for Israel. It's not a prize.