Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Bashar al-Assad on Monday military operations against civilians must end immediately and unconditionally, warning the Syrian president that this was Ankara's "final word."
"This is our final word to the Syrian authorities, our first expectation is that these operations stop immediately and unconditionally," Davutoglu said in Turkey's strongest rhetoric yet against its once close ally and neighbor.
"If these operations do not stop, there will be nothing left to say about the steps that would be taken," he told a news conference, without elaborating.
This could be interesting. In a Syria-Turkish war that threatens to drag in Iran and Saudi Arabia, with perhaps Hezbollah and Hamas attacking Israel to distract the Sunni world, sort of way.
If I was Assad, I'd deploy my troops not loyal enough to kill civilians to the north to block Turkey. Those troops would probably defend their country against invasion.
If I was going to deploy Turkey's troops, I'd create pockets all along the border 10-20 miles inside Syria and declare them to be safe zones for refugees. And I'd use my fleet to blockade the Syrian coast to keep out anything but humanitarian supplies. I'd keep my air force up, and keep it handy to strike any Syrian forces on the move between cities deploying to kill civilians or that attack Turkish ground forces. And I'd watch out for Iran in the east where I'd use the mountainous terrain to multiply the defensive ability of units out there. Let Iran make the first move there and call on NATO to repel an invasion of a member country's territory.
Or is this not nearly the ultimatum that it appears to be?
UPDATE: It isn't my imagination. Turkey issued an ultimatum:
Turkey is threatening to invade to halt the Syrian government from killing its people.
Strategypage says the Syrian army would fall apart if attacked. I figured the Syrian army would be beaten. But I thought nationalism could inspire a will to fight even if it was a losing cause. But perhaps not. If Strategypage thinks the Syrian army is too far gone to even resist, I'll go with that view.