David Frum

10.11.12

Will Syria and Turkey Go to War?

Koplow writes that Wright is wrong to assume the odds of Syria and Turkey going to war are as high as "50/50." Citing a post in The National Interest, Koplow discusses how even if Turkey were intent on fighting Syria, they would be hard pressed to execute such combat. Instead, they are relying on a hard bluff in the hope that it will suffice to placate internal critics and appear strong on the international scene.

This is the double secret probation strategy, in which Turkey keeps on ramping up the threats to punish Syria to the point of absurdity. Wright’s argument is that Turkey will end up intervening in Syria in order to put a swift end to the civil war, but the inconvenient reality here is that Turkey might not have the capability to do so, which has obviously been affecting Ankara’s calculus this whole time. In addition, even if Turkey did have the capability to step in and put an end to the sectarian fighting in Syria, Wright assumes that this would put a damper on Kurdish nationalism, but in fact it might very well have precisely the opposite effect. Once the Assad regime falls, the PYD and other Syrian Kurdish groups are likely to try and carve out their own autonomous sphere within Syria, and Turkish intervention on the side of the rebels could accelerate this process.