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The Syrian Quagmire: What’s Holding Turkey Back?

The Assad regime has been playing all the diplomatic, political, and security cards it has accumulated over the past several decades. While keeping the violence under a certain threshold on a daily basis so as not to provoke immediate international action, the regime has benefited from the entangled and often conflicted international interests in Syria. The opposition has been unable to deal a serious blow to the regime and international pressure has so far yielded no major results. Though calls for international and regional action have recently intensified, there exists no clear international leadership or consensus on how to handle Syria. The Arab League and Turkey, along with other countries, have created the “Friends of Syria” group after the failure of the UN Security Council resolution on Syria, but Russian and Iranian backing for the Assad regime is seriously limiting options. Given its support for the people against authoritarian regimes during the Arab Spring and its anti-Assad stance, expectations for Turkey to “do something” are increasingly more pronounced. So, what’s holding Turkey back?

The Syrian Quagmire What s Holding Turkey Back
A Syrian refugee boy gives a victory sign at Reyhanli refugee camp in Hatay.

As the Assad regime continues its brutal crackdown on the opposition, international efforts have been focused on finding a way to provide humanitarian aid to the Syrian people and on convincing Russia and Iran to drop their support for the regime. Little progress has been made on these fronts and it is not clear how the Arab League will be able to increase its pressure. Turkey, for its part, is trying to increase the international attention on Syria while supporting the Syrian opposition inside Turkey. 

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