Justin Vela

Bosporus Blog…Turkey and the quiet after a car bombing…

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The Turkish and Syrian opposition banners on a rooftop in Ain al-Baida, Syria. December 2011.

The flags of Turkey and the Syrian opposition atop a rooftop in Ain al-Baida, Syria. December 2011.

A perceptible quiet followed a car bombing Monday just outside Turkish territory, at the country’s Cilvegozu border crossing with Syria.

Where was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s characteristically aggressive rhetoric?

Even Erdogan occasionally knows when it’s best to keep quiet. Most of the international community is by nearly all indications fixated on a negotiated settlement to the two-year conflict in Syria. Erdogan’s own past threats towards Syria were revealed to be fairly empty. No need for more threats, artillery strikes, or turning heads in Washington or Brussels.

It’s not the moment for Erdogan to work the Turkish public up over Syria either, though he undoubtedly could.

Now, he is aware that Ankara’s support for the armed opposition in Syria remains an unpopular policy among Turks. Making the car bombing a central issue now would increase a sense of insecurity at a time when Erdogan needs stability to focus on key domestic issues.

Following the bombing, Turkey’s Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı made a laughable attempt to claim weapons were not being provided by Turkey to Syria’s rebels, perhaps with an aim to reassure the public.

Ankara appears to kept most ministries out of the loop about arms provisions to the rebels, giving them plausible deniability, which is why you see Minister Yazıcı displaying the air guns and 50,375 bullets.

A civilian volunteer for the Free Syrian Army in Ain al-Baida, Syria in December 2011.

A civilian volunteer for the Free Syrian Army in Ain al-Baida, Syria in December 2011.

Yet, as the war in Syria continues, it is sadly unlikely that Turkey will avoid more attacks on its soil. And these might not only be attacks orchestrated by the Syrian regime.

It is also not unlikely that Islamic militants fighting in Syria will at some point turn their sights on Turkey.

The motivation for this might be to attack the West, Turkey is a NATO ally. Or it might happen in hopes of provoking Ankara to carry out some kind of attack against regime forces.

Such small-scale attacks might already be happening to some extent in places such as Ceylanpinar, a majority Kurdish town along the border with Syria. Though there is not enough evidence to substantiate that with any certainty.

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Written by Justin Vela

February 14, 2013 at 3:03 pm

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