Thursday, June 23, 2011

Provoking the Wrong War

Syria's Assad may think that risking a war with Israel is a no-brainer to distract his people from protesting his rule, but that hasn't worked out. Israel doesn't have enough friends to want to risk a war with Syria unless they have to.

Turkey on the other hand, won't have the handicaps that Israel would have and also has the military power to overpower the Syrian armed forces. So what is Assad thinking?

Syrian troops massed on the Turkish border overnight, witnesses said on Thursday, escalating tensions with Ankara as President Bashar al-Assad uses increasing military force against a popular revolt.

The Turkish troops on their side of the border are now wearing their helmets, just in case. And the Turks are sounding ominous:

Turkey had warned Assad against repeating mass killings in cities witnessed during the rule of his father in the 1980s. A senior Turkish official said on Sunday that Assad had less than a week to start implementing long-promised political reforms before foreign intervention began, without elaborating.

Would Turkey really push into northern Syria to carve out a safe haven for the protesters? Or push all the way to Damascus? I find it hard to believe the UN Security Council would authorize either mission given the Russian and Chinese  veto power. And I doubt NATO would let itself be pulled along in the wake of Turkish action.

Still, it will be interesting to see what happens if Assad doesn't start implementing political reforms in less than a week.

UPDATE: We're worried:

The United States is concerned by reports that Syria is massing troops near the border with Turkey, which could escalate the crisis in the region, and is discussing the issue with Turkish officials, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

I wonder if the Turks feel that they have a duty to protect Sunni Moslems?