Protesters took to the streets around the Turkish parliament on Thursday, chanting, “We don't want war!” and “The Syrian people are our brothers!”
The Turkish parliament was deliberating on a motion that would allow military operations in Syria if the government considers them as necessary.
The demonstration comes after Turkish forces reportedly killed several Syrian soldiers in an attack on a military post near the border town of Tel Abyad earlier on Thursday.
An interview with Moufid Jaber, with the Center for Middle East Studies from Beirut, to further discuss the issue.
Q: How do you see this development. Is this a prelude for direct NATO involvement?
Jaber: It is very possible that NATO would use this as a pretext for intervening in Syria but thus far it has not gone to a situation that is severe enough for NATO to have enough pretexts to intervene without Russia and China objecting to this.
Q: I am sure you just heard at least Russia blocking that UN draft resolution against any type of intervention there. So we can see that Russia is steadfast in its support for calming things down.
But given what parliament has approved in Turkey, isn’t that another way of saying that based on Turkey’s decision when they feel that it is proper, they are going to go in at least in the border area? So given the fact that they say this is not a mandate for war but it really is an essence, isn’t it?
Jaber: Turkey might eventually have to intervene in Syria but as you know, in Turkey the opposition is strong enough for the government to take the opposition’s point of view into consideration because as you know, the opposition in Turkey is strongly opposed to the way Turkey is dealing with the situation in Syria and would thus be also opposed to any military intervention by Turkey inside Syria.
As I said, in Turkey there is an Alawite population of over 25 percent and also the main secularists in Turkey object to any military intervention in Syria and this might thwart Turkey from intervening eventually in Syria.
Q: You mentioned the Alawite population which is relatively big, roughly about, as you said, 25 million people, and of course you have that ongoing battle with the Kurdish militants.
Add to that the general public in Turkey who are opposed to the stance that the government has taken. How do you see that panning out for the Turkish government given the three different ingredients that I just mentioned?
Jaber: As I said, considering that the Alawite population in Turkey is sympathetic to the government in Syria as well as the Kurdish population, the way that Turkey has been dealing with the situation in Syria, it has endangered its previously cordial relations that Turkey enjoyed privileged relations with Syria prior to the Erdogan government taking these drastic measures and taking these strong positions against the government in Syria, the way that the government in Turkey has dealt with the situation is going to alienate a great proportion of the population in Turkey and it might affect any government decision regarding this particular issue because now the Turkish government has realized that it has, since the beginning, not dealt with the Syria situation in a correct way, rather it has tried to get the support of a certain denomination in the region and now it has realized that the course it has taken with regards to Syria is not beneficial to Turkey’s international standing.