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Will Turkey Intervene to Syria?

Recently Turkish main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Secretary General Gürsel Tekin declared that Turkey had plans to launch a military operation in Syria. In response Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu labeled such kind of reports and the declaration of Turkish possible military intervention to Syria as "speculations without any basis." The new waive of discussions on the issue were further activated after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on May 10 passed Syrian border to visit the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, without prior notification to the Syrian government.

In order to make a sense how grounded these kinds of "speculations" on Turkish possible intervention to Syria are, one has to understand recent changes in the Middle East that somehow change the  rules of the game among the countries in the region. The recent information disseminated in the media on possible secret plans between Turkey and Saudi Arabia to form a military alliance and to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad raises a logical question: what could make two nations with long history of rivalry to come to terms on Syria.

The main reasons for disagreement between Saudi Arabia and Turkey are connected with their different positions on the Muslim Brotherhood. After President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was ousted by the supporters of  Egyptian Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Saudi Arabia considered the move "as a crackdown on terrorism and promised to compensate Sisi for any military or economic aid withheld by the U.S. and the European Union in response to the coup," Huffington Post informs. On the other hand Turkey called the development in Egypt to be against democracy and welcomed exiled member of Muslim Brotherhood to Turkey.

The situation in the Middle East in general and in Saudi Arabia in particular has changed after January 2015, when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died and was succeeded by his brother Salman bin Abdul Aziz. Recent development in Yemen made the latter to slightly change Saudi’s long-held stance on Muslim Brotherhood. This change was conditioned by the fact that in Yemen the proponents of Muslim Brotherhood  form as Sunni force that can fight against the Houthi rebels and thus directly or indirectly become Saudi ally.  

 Does this mean that possible joint-intervention from Turkey and Saudi Arabia to Syria is possible? To answer this question one also has to consider the other side of the coin and to see what the possible obstacles are. First, Turkey is a NATO member, while Saudi Arabia is a US ally in the region, thus no matter how much they oppose Iran’s possible nuclear deal and Iran’s subsequent increased role in the region they are unlikely to take action in Syria without prior consultation with US. Obama, on the other hand, will unlikely initiate new actions agonist Iran’s alley - President of Syria Bashar al-Assad thus risking positive outcome of negotiations with Iran. Second for joint cooperation in Syria Saudi Arabia and Turkey still have to develop sufficient level of mutual trust and overcome number of problems like, for example, opposite radical views on Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Finally one has to consider June 7 upcoming elections in Turkey. On the eve of elections Erdogan is unlikely to be engage in the Middle East chaos hence risking public support in Turkey and risking new uprising in Turkey.

Thus, if we measure pros and cons of Turkey’s possible intervention to Syria we come to a conclusion that in spite of the strong desire of the Turkish authorities to undertake it in the short-term perspective Turkey is unlikely to do that, as the price Turkey will have to pay can be too high.

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