|New developments in Syria and their impact on Turkey’s policies||
Recent developments in Syria’s Kurdish regions have created new challenges for neighboring Turkey in terms of its policies on Syrian unrest.
For years, Kurds in Turkey have been treated as second-class citizens and Ankara has repeatedly used excessive force to suppress their demands. The recent rise of Kurdish militias in Syria’s border areas with Turkey worries Ankara because they could find another base to strike Turkey, as they have done from Iraq. A Kurdish psychological coup could also pave the way for popular protests among Kurds against the Turkish state.
Over past months, many observers have criticized Turkey for its one-sided policies toward Syria. Under the influence of U.S. and NATO allies, Turkey has done its best to destabilize Syria. Turkish officials do not stand on ceremony to declare that their single aim is regime change in Damascus.
Turkey openly endorses the Syrian opposition and continues to support terrorists with funds and weapons, straining relations between the two states. Officials in Damascus should logically find a way to counteract Ankara’s hostile moves.
Iraq is concerned about Turkey’s policies in Syria and its impact on the geopolitical equations of the region. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s recent visit to Kirkuk in Iraqi-Kurdistan, uncoordinated with officials in Baghdad, faced lots of criticism in the Iraqi government. This was a clear manifestation of Turkey’s meddling in Iraq’s internal affairs. Ankara’s direct support for the fugitive Iraqi first vice-president, Tariq al-Hashimi, as well as other dissident elements in Iraq, are further testament to the end of its policy of ‘no problems with our neighbors’.
Future relations between Iraq and Turkey will depend on how much Ankara moderates its policy toward Syria, otherwise tensions will only escalate.
Siamak Kakayi is a political analyst and expert on Turkey and Iraq based in Tehran
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