Will the missile strikes on Syrian weapons facilities carried out by the U.S., France and Britain Friday bring any results? Were the strikes really necessary? Were they legitimate? What will happen next? Could it be a change in Turkey's position? Will Turkey-Russia relations deteriorate? These were the main questions discussed in the past couple of days, and different fronts have offered different answers to consolidate their own positions. The efforts to empathize with Syrians that take their well-being into account are meager.
Above all, the departure point of the strikes is of course legitimate. It does not make much sense only to interrogate whether a chemical attack did really occur or not. Of course, the Assad regime organized a chemical attack in Douma on April 7 as proved by hundreds of evidence and witness accounts. But even if the attack had not occurred, the strikes would still have been legitimate since Assad has never paid the price for the 220 chemical attacks he carried out earlier. The situation in Syria is still alarming even when the chemical attacks are taken out of the picture. So, what will happen to his massacre of Syrian people with conventional weapons for the past seven years?
A far more extensive operation should have been launched against Assad a long time ago. Just as the U.S. interventions in Bosnia in 1995 and in Kosovo in 1999, an intervention to overthrow Assad would have been the rightful answer. Today, if you ask a Bosnian or Kosovan, who experienced genocide and hovered between life and death, would relay their gratitude for those operations.
The most relevant questions we need to ask today are: Has the operation that claimed to target Assad's chemical weapons facilities yielded any results? Were the strikes sufficient in their own right?
I am afraid the answer to this question is negative. If further steps are not taken, then it means that the only motivation of the strikes was to intimidate Assad and demonstrate the U.S.'s presence in the Middle East. Unfortunately, this limited and controlled operation did not aim to overthrow the regime in Syria. However, it was significant because it displayed that the West can engage in joint actions when necessary.
Turkey's position must also be heeded at this point. Having improved ties with Russia and Iran recently, Turkey has cemented the argument that it pursues a multi-directional foreign policy by supporting this operation. Ankara, who has shown the most consistent stance against Assad all along, announced its support to the operation by signaling that this will not disturb the relations with Russia.
Meanwhile, Turkey is strictly opposed to the U.S.'s approach to the outlawed PKK's Syrian offshoot Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG). The tension between the two allies will continue as long as this divergence persists. On the other hand, they share similar views in regards to the Syrian regime. The U.S. is still against the regime although it no longer defends Assad's overthrow as a priority target.Meanwhile, despite having a great divergence with Russia regarding the Syrian regime, Turkey has been in accord with Moscow on the issue of PYD. In other words, the country has an affinity with different actors on different agendas. So, it can be said that Turkey stresses its role as a NATO ally without letting this hamper its relations with Russia.This is not an easy position to maintain, but Turkey's might stems from its ability to do so.