Syria: Will the conflict widen to Turkey?

The Turkish parliament authorized cross-border raids into Syria after Syrian shells landed in Turkey and killed five people.

Syria’s civil war threatens to spark a conflict that could engulf the Middle East, said Al-Quds Al-Arabi (U.K.) in an editorial. Last week, after Syrian shells landed across the border and killed five Turkish civilians, Turkey’s parliament gave Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan the authority to order cross-border raids into Syria. Since then, the two sides have exchanged fire nearly every day. It’s no surprise that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would choose to provoke Turkey: His regime sees the country as “the main threat to its survival” because Erdogan openly supports the Syrian rebels. But Turkey shouldn’t rise to the bait. Its army is already fighting insurgents at home, and the Turkish people have no appetite for another military adventure. We can only hope that “Erdogan’s war talk is meant for public consumption and an attempt at unnerving Syrian authorities.”

It had better be just that, said Alireza Rezakhah in the Khorasan News (Iran). “Any unilateral military action by Turkey against Syria will face serious regional opposition” not only from Iran, but also from Iraq and Lebanon. Further afield, Turkey could expect China and Russia to “inflict a huge cost” as well. The fighting would spread, and Turkey’s government would be among the first victims. That’s obviously what Assad wants everyone to think, said Al-Ahram (Egypt). The Syrian regime provokes one of its neighbors every time it “senses imminent collapse.” At various times since this conflict began last year, Syrian troops and artillery have come perilously close to crossing the Iraqi border, the Lebanese border, and the Jordanian border, and even stirred up trouble by encouraging Palestinians near the Golan Heights. “The Syrian regime believes these arbitrary operations prove that its collapse would lead to the breakout of a destructive regional war.” But it’s just a bluff.

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