Turkey to blame for 8 years of warfare in Syria – analysis    

Turkey’s early involvement when protests erupted in Syria in 2011 is the reason, to a large extent, for eight years of warfare in the country, as a result of which so far some 370,000 Syrians have been killed, six million have fled Syria, and another six million have been displaced within the country, said the Irish Times on Friday

“Without Turkey’s early involvement, Damascus’s crackdown would have ended the protests and the government would have initiated promised reforms,” the Irish Times said. 

“While Turkey was not the only external power to intervene it was the first, the most prominent and provided access to others,” the newspaper said. “The result was civil conflict and proxy wars that have drawn in the United States, Europe, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states,” it said. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan back in 2009 put pressure on his then-ally Bashar Assad to adapt a multi-party system and end the ban on faith-based parties, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Turkey intervened in the conflict in Syria two months after the start of the 2011 protests by convening a meeting of Syrian opposition factions in Istanbul and recruiting Syrian rebels for what was later named the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Irish Times said. 

“Protracted unrest has enabled Ankara to achieve territorial ambitions in Syria, a province of the Ottoman Empire until the First World War,” the newspaper said. In military operation launched in 2016 and 2018, Turkey invaded critical towns in northern Syria with the help of the Turkey-backed Syrian rebels.

Turkey started another military offensive in October, seizing control in the area between northeastern Syrian towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al Ayn from the Kurdish militia which Ankara sees as terrorists with ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

“Turkey intends to settle refugees in areas it occupies in northern Syria but this involves the ethnic cleansing of local Kurds,” the Irish Times said. Turkey is currently home to some 3.6 million Syrian refugees that fled the war.