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Turks Wary of Syria War

Published: 26/10/2012 12:18:47 AM GMT
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ANKARA - As Turkey continued reprisal attacks on Syrian targets for the second day on Thursday, October 4, Turks were growing worried about being dragged into full-blown intervention in Syria. We are carrying out other cou (more)

ANKARA - As Turkey continued reprisal attacks on Syrian targets for the second day on Thursday, October 4, Turks were growing worried about being dragged into full-blown intervention in Syria.

"We are carrying out other countries' business in the Middle East,” 38-year-old waiter Mustafa Denizer told Reuters.

“It's not our war, and we should not be fighting the war of others.”

Five Turks - a mother, her three children and a female relative - were killed in a Syrian shelling on a Turkish border town on Wednesday.

In response, the Turkish army launched retaliatory attacks on Syrian targets, killing at least five Syrian soldiers.

The artillery strikes on Syrian military targets eased public pressure on the government that dated back to the shooting down of a Turkish military jet by Syrian air defenses in June.

The Turkish parliament on Thursday authorized the government to take military action in Syria if there was a further spillover of violence.

But the move sparked worries among Turks about being dragged into full-blown war with Syria.

"Turkey would drown in Syria if we try to go in there ourselves,” Denizer said.

“We should avoid starting a war without international support.”

An online survey by Hurriyet newspaper showed 60 percent of Turks oppose a parliament memorandum authorizing possible military deployments.

A number of Turks gathered outside the parliament on Thursday to oppose any plans for war with Syria.

"We don't want war!" and "The Syrian people are our brothers!" chanted the protestors outside the parliament.

Opposition parties and civil society groups, expressing misgivings over the Turkish military response, called a further protest in Istanbul for later on Thursday.

The Turkish slogan "savasa hayir" ("no to war") was also the top trending item on Turkey's Twitter on Thursday.

Public Opposition

Analysts opine that the Turkish public would oppose any large-scale operation in Syria.

"The Turkish people support such limited action, which has a positive impact psychologically,” Nihat Ali Ozcan, security analyst at the TEPAV think tank in Ankara, told Reuters.

“But they would not support a large-scale operation or war, because there is no legitimacy in Turkish eyes.”

The Turkish government was also keen to allay fears of a full-blown intervention in Syria's 18-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, whose bloody crackdown on dissent wrecked relations with Turkey.

"Turkey has no interest in a war with Syria,” Ibrahim Kalin, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, said on his Twitter account.

“But Turkey is capable of protecting its borders and will retaliate when necessary," he said.

"Political, diplomatic initiatives will continue."

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay also stressed Turkey's priority was to work in coordination with international institutions and that the parliament authorization was not a "war memorandum".

Turkey has the second largest army in NATO but its military activity in recent decades has been focused on fighting Kurdish militants at home and international peacekeeping operations.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), mainly based in the mountains of northern Iraq, has waged a 28-year-old insurgency in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.

Its proxy party in Syria has exploited the chaos to exert growing influence in the region bordering Turkey.

"We have to be very careful on our border with Syria,” said Mustafa Kemal Caniklioglu, 31, a restaurant manager in Istanbul.

“We must remain cool-headed and our reactions must be measured.“The radical groups near the border may be trying to provoke Turkey into declaring war.”

Reproduced with permission from