01:37 GMT +316 October 2019
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    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (File)

    Syrian Conundrum: How Turkey 'Gets Caught on the Hook' by US

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    On Thursday night, the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha’irat, located about 40 kilometers from the city of Homs. The strike resulted in a number of casualties among Syrian servicemen and damages to the facility.

    US President Donald Trump said the attack was a response to the alleged chemical weapon use in Syria's Idlib and called it "vital" for national security.

    The missile strike has been welcomed by a number of foreign governments, including Turkey.

    In an interview with Sputnik Turkey, Alper Taş, co-chair of the Turkish Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP), suggested that the missile attack was planned by Washington in advance.

    "By doing this, Trump tried to assert American presence and role in the region. We [ODP] condemn this attack," Taş said.

    He also condemned Ankara’s support for Washington’s actions in Syria.

    In an official statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said: "We welcome the US operation early this morning targeting the Syrian regime’s Shayrat air base in the aftermath of the regime’s Khan Sheikhoun chemical weapons attack which constituted the latest example of the regime’s crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed in the last six years."

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a ceremony in Eskisehir, Turkey, March 17, 2017
    © REUTERS / Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Palace
    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his support for the missile strike but said even more should be done.

    "We welcome this operation. I have been following it since 4 o'clock in the morning. But we do not think this is sufficient, I wish that this step by the United States was only the beginning. We will now always protect Syrian civilians. We use all our capabilities to protect the oppressed," Erdogan said at a rally Friday.

    According to Taş, Turkey should give up its "expansionist policy" built on sectarian differences and try to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

    The politician also pointed out: "The missile strike in Syria was also an attempt to refute Trump’s image as an advocate of normalization with Russia. Such foreign policy by Washington will add fuel to the fire in the region."

    At the same time, according to Taş, new American strikes are unlikely in Syria and the Pentagon will not launch a boots-on-the-ground offensive.

    The Turkish position on the reported chemical attack in Syria and the US missile strike is "strange," according to Hossein Sheikholeslam, an adviser to the Iranian foreign minister.

    "Instead, Ankara should have tried to find out how chemical weapons and chemical materials were smuggled from Iraq to Idlib. Earlier, the Syrian government submitted a detailed report on its chemical arsenals. Everyone knows that Idlib neighbors Turkey at the northwest," Sheikholeslam told Sputnik Persian.

    Doğu Perinçek, leader of the Patriotic Party (Vatan), the Turkish leadership and President Erdogan "got caught on the hook" by Washington.

    "While the attack was aimed against Syria, it has affected Turkey too. An attempt to divide Syria or Iraq would mean an attempt to divide Turkey. Moreover, this is also an attack aimed to shatter Erdogan’s power. Washington’s tactic is to isolate Erdogan in the international arena. Turkish ties with Germany, Iran and a number of other countries have already spoiled," Perinçek told Sputnik Turkey.

    According to him, the only way Turkey can "avoid a territorial division" is to develop cooperation with Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

    Hamide Yiğit, a Turkish publicist and specialist in Middle East studies, noted that since the US started supporting the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG units, Ankara has been permanently changing its stance on the Syrian crisis.

    "During the negotiations in Astana, Turkey acted as an ally of Russia and Iran. It also backed the idea of a safe zone in Syria, proposed by the US. The talks in Astana were important for Turkey in terms of normalization with Russia. But after Washington sent a signal about the military option Turkey showed support," Yiğit said.

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a ceremony in Eskisehir, Turkey, March 17, 2017
    © REUTERS / Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Palace
    She added that Ankara fears that it will be abandoned by allies in the Syrian crisis.

    "If Ankara was confident in support from NATO and the US it may try to repeat the crisis in relations with Russia. But I don’t think Turkey will repeat its hostile rhetoric. Turkey is not powerful enough to confront Russia," Yiğit said.


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