Posted 09.08.2012 11:50:33 UTC
Updated 09.08.2012 13:38:31 UTC
Professor Dr. Ramazan Gözen of Yıldırım Beyazıt University
The incidents taking place in Syria show that the civil war is out of hand and galloping toward an unknown point. The most important of the developments was the incident in which five ministers and a high ranking officer of Al Assad were killed as a result of an attack. That incident shook the Al Assad regime to its foundations causing it to lose control. The spiral of increasing violence means that Al Assad's power and legitimacy is nearing its end. With Syria's central state authority waning, some alternative nuclei of power started emerging ,especially in the north of the country. The PYD Kurdish groups in the region are claimed to be eager to break away from Al Assad's regime and declare autonomy. The internal conflict of Syria which has so far continued along sectarian differences such as Shia and Sunni seems to have been compounded with dissent and splits among Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs. The development to have made this picture even more complicated was the report about the support for PYD by Barzani peshmerga and PKK terrorists. Turkey has said it will not agree Syria's partitioning, PKK's infiltration to the region or a formation by separatist Kurds.
Turkey has swiftly taken domestic and foreign policy measures against those risks. Military reinforcements have been sent to the region on the one hand, and foreign policy initiatives have been launched on the other. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has spoken to US President Obama on the phone securing cooperation and consensus against the developments in Syria. The two leaders have reached agreement for Al Assad's exit and the formation of a new government. This was followed by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's visit to northern Iraq in line with the prime minister's instruction to meet the leader of the regional administration Barzani and his deputies. Davutoğlu and Barzani are reported to be in agreement regarding the territorial integrity of Iraq and in readiness to embark upon cooperation against all unfavourable developments. The steadily developing rapprochement between Davutoğlu and Barzani of recent years has thus been confirmed once again. An interesting dimension of that visit was Davutoğlu's visit to Kirkuk after completion of his contacts in Irbil. His visit to Kirkuk unvisited by any Turkish officials since the 1920s was historic and sent out some significant messages, the most important of which is that the inchoate alliance of Turkey, the United States and the Iraqi Kurds of 2009 has almost matured now.
All these developments are leading to new scenarios about Syria and the region being written or debated. Those scenarios covering a wide spectrum of possibilities are pretty diverse. The first scenario is the Lebanization or Iraqization of Syria whereby the ethnic and religious groups in Syria can be pitted against one another leading to unceasing conflicts among them for years on end. The confrontations spreading and intensifying in the chaotic atmosphere to emerge in the wake of Al Assad's ouster are very likely. The second scenario is the partitioning of Syria into smaller chunks of land, hence states, among them a Nusayri state where Al Assad can take shelter, a Sunni state to be set up by the majority and a Kurdish entity. The third scenario is the formation of a new Syria after Al Assad's departure and the continuation of the status quo. And the fourth is about Al Assad routing his enemies and taking full control of the country again and setting up even a more suppressive Baath regime in the country. We believe that all these scenarios , except the fourth one, can materialize. Therefore, we can predict that Syria will not return , at this point, to a Baath-Assad era again, the old order will not live on and the change in Syria will continue to affect the region and the world more closely. The protraction of a bloody civil war to rage on for years is not a meagre possibility in the event of the clashes in Syria spreading so as to engulf the entire region. The emergence of a power vacuum in Syria is bound to influence the course of regional and global politics. The developments in Syria are also to suck in not only Syria's neighbours but also the global states and non-state actors. While the religious and ethnic actors aspire after cross-border projects, Iran and Saudi Arabia will be after the formation of an order in Syria close to them and the US and Russia will vie for superiority to re-shape the entire region. As we previously said the Middle East is entering into a process of being re-shaped. That process ongoing in Iraq,Lebanon and Syria for the time being stands a strong possibility of swallowing the Arab peninsula and the Persian Gulf in line with the Arab spring logic at the following stages of that process.
We can say that the cooperation model between Turkey, the United States and the Iraqi Kurds occupies a critical place in the dynamics of this change. This model is more than likely to affect not only the Syria-Iraq-Lebanon triangle but also a whole slew of crisis regions from Iran to Saudi Arabia to Palestine and Israel as well as the relations and balances between the US and Europe and Russia and China. What we have to take into account is the fact that in an equation with multiple unknowns, this model cannot always develop and be implemented as expected.