Snippet: Turkey’s Foreign Policy towards Syria and Egypt, 9-2013

I’ve decided to have a glance at recent developments of Turkey’s FP towards Syria and Egypt.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Turkey’s position towards Syria

Turkey’s position on the crisis in Syria is clear. Where in the first months of the Syrian crisis Turkey was cautiously criticising Assad, a year later, Turkey had developed a highly condemnatory rhetoric whenever the issue of Syria was discussed.

Foreign Minister Davutoglu made a statement on the crisis Syria on 30 August, where he expressed Turkey’s viewpoint elaborately. I decided to quote a large part of the statement, because it excellently describes Turkey’s changing foreign policy with regards to Assad’s actions.

Of course, a big responsibility falls upon the international community from now on. First I would like to state this utmost clarity. Some people want to paint a picture of Turkey as a warmonger. This is an extremely unjust accusation. The whole world knows how much we have worked for 10 months from January to October 2011, engaging directly, to protect our Syrian brothers against any harm, regardless of ethnicity and sectarian origins. This was when no one else had even made a move away from their capitals.

Turkey acted when those who presently support either one of the sides didn’t make any move. We made use of all diplomatic means. But, unfortunately, our friendly warnings and advise, which were as well in the interests of Turkey’s security, were not heard. As you know, we first saw snipers, then artillery shootings attacking settlements. And as of the beginning of this year, Scud missiles have been launched targeting civilians 300-350 km away.

Even in the context of these combats these last attacks have been the most far-reaching attacks against civilian venues recently. It was the most severe massacre the state committed against its own people. Finally, use of chemical weapons, even at war, has been forbidden since 1925. Use of chemical weapons even at war between two countries was forbidden in 1925 in line with a joint international convention. And until now, this considered a war crime.

Those who fail to call it a war when a regime uses chemical weapons against its own people, those who fail to see that this is an act of barbarity which requires a reaction, or those who think a war is only starting now and that Turkey is a warmonger, lacks humanitarian conscience.

We are not pursuing any agenda to get Turkey or any other party to get involved in war. We have naturally shared our findings with the international community. We have received findings from others as well. New information keeps on coming to light. Opposition in Syria provides information; we also have humanitarian and intelligence sources. All of this information should be reviewed and an international initiative to end this war should be launched.

Turkey’s position towards Egypt

Turkey positively perceived the stepping down of the armed forces in Egypt in 2012 and the transfer to power to an elected President. Prime Minister Erdogan went to Turkey more than once and hailed the progress Egypt was making politically. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Turkey condemned the takeover of power by the armed forces in Egypt, as such removing President Morsi from office. In a strong diplomatic statement, Ankara decided to recalled it’s ambassador to Cairo in August, but reversed that decision in early September, on grounds that Egypt is a critical partner and strategically important to Turkey and the wider region.

On the other hand, Egypt will not send back it’s highest ranking diplomat  to Ankara “until Turkish interference in Egyptian affairs is halted.”

Clearly the government is not happy with the developments in Egypt, and the violent clashes which erupted in Cairo following the coup didn’t help.

Given the very uncertain future of Egypt, widely considered the Arab World’s most important country, is remains unclear how Turkish-Egyptian relations will develop.

Interesting: A ‘factsheet’ on the different viewpoints of the global players of Syria.

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