US and Turkey Diverge on Syria

This analysis was published as part of SETA DC Perspective series on October 3, 2013.

The US and Turkey have yet to develop a plan to deal with the monumental challenges the Syrian conflict poses to their interests. Finding common ground among regional and global stakeholders in Syria has already proven to be a challenging endeavor. While broad international consensus against the use of chemical weapons might have provided grounds for robust international action, the US reluctance to get involved in Syria resulted in a scaled back approach. In the wake of Syria’s violation of President Obama’s so-called “red line” on the chemical weapons use, Turkey declared its readiness to join a military operation against the regime with the goal of ending Assad’s rule and establishing a transitional government. The US administration’s preference for a deal with Russian to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons highlights the lack of policy synchronization between the US and Turkey on Syria. The removal of chemical weapons is a critical yet only one component of a much larger and increasingly more complex set of problems created by the conflict. It is crucial for the US and Turkey to work out their differences if they are to contribute to a mutually beneficial resolution of the Syrian conflict.

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