Turkey, the Unhelpful Ally

(New York Times) Halil M. Karaveli - Turkey is exacerbating Syria's sectarian strife, rather than contributing to a peaceful and pluralistic solution. While sponsoring the Sunni cause in Syria, the Turkish government has made no attempt to show sympathy for the fears of the country's Alawite, Christian and Kurdish minorities. The Alawites and the Christians have backed the government in large numbers and fear retribution if Assad is toppled. Even more ominously, Turkey is turning a blind eye to the presence of jihadists on its territory. America can't expect the Sunni Arab autocracies that have financed the Syrian uprising, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to help empower secular and moderate leaders in Syria. However, Turkey, a NATO ally, should be expected to promote a pluralistic, post-Assad Syria. It has not. The U.S. must beware of doing the bidding of Sunni powers - especially Turkey - that are advancing sectarian agendas that run counter to America's interest of promoting pluralism and tolerance. Left unchecked, rising sectarianism could lead to a dangerous regional war. The writer is a senior fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program, which are affiliated with the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

2013-03-06 00:00:00

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