No Scruples in the Battle for Syria

Whoever was responsible for the double bomb attack in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli last weekend, it is part of a perfidious strategy to show the Turkish people that their nation has long been involved in the battle over Syria's future. Commentary by Jürgen Gottschlich

By Jürgen Gottschlich

The Syrian civil war has arrived in Turkey. Following the bomb attacks in Reyhanli, no one in Turkey is under any more illusions about the effects of the war in Syria. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are currently in Syria, among them many armed fighters using Turkey as a retreat.

Reyhanli is a logistical centre for weapons supplies to Syrian opposition fighters, a situation that has also fuelled conflict between local people and armed members of the Syrian opposition.

Whoever was responsible for detonating the bombs last Saturday (11 May), the attacks are part of a perfidious strategy to show the Turkish people that their country has long been involved in the battle for the future of Syria. The Turkish government has for a long while been moving towards giving greater support to the Syrian opposition.

Squaring up to the Syrian regime

This week, Erdogan is set to call for the establishment of a no-fly zone during a trip to Washington and it appears likely that Ankara will soon massively increase its military support for allies in Syria – mainly the Muslim Brotherhood.

Widening the battle zone: The Syrian-Turkish border region has been a flashpoint in the past, but the bombings in Reyhanli are the deadliest attacks since the Syrian conflict began more than two years ago

​​But the bomb attacks also show that there are no more scruples in the battle for Syria. It is possible that the Turkish nationals arrested in connection with the bombings were indeed responsible, but the bombs could also just as easily have been planted by Islamist opposition fighters.

Turkey's secular opposition rightly fears that even the toppling of Assad will not put a swift end to the fighting, and that the Free Syrian Army is not a reliable partner. Erdogan, on the other hand, believes that the more Turkey gets involved at this juncture, the more clout it will have at a later date when deciding who takes charge of Syria. But such an approach by US President George W. Bush in Iraq turned out to be an error of judgment.

Jürgen Gottschlich

© 2013

Translated from the German by Nina Coon

Editor: Lewis Gropp/