Special to Times of Oman
In its fourth year, the Syrian civil war is becoming more complex by the day. The regime has initiated a policy of unbelievable violence toward its own people and also burned its bridges with numerous friends, including Turkey.
When we look at the history of Syria and Turkey, the province of Hatay, the main problem between Turkey and Syria, joined the former in 1937, and this was regarded by Syria as a defeat that would never be forgotten. Turkey and Syria were also in different camps during the Cold War, and bilateral relations were almost down to zero.
Yet the people divided by the borders lived in both countries, and these people were not bound by one ethnicity. Turkmen and Arabs, as well as Kurds who were not even given citizenship rights by the Syrian regime, were citizens of both countries.
Whenever the Syrian people demanded freedom and sought to make their voices heard, they were put down in a most fierce manner. The freedom operation set in motion by the Muslim Brotherhood in February 1982 was suppressed with the slaughter and torture of some 25,000 people. The regime is now perpetrating even worse slaughter than that carried out in 1982. Neither the Western nations nor the USA or the Muslim countries have thus far been able to put an end to this slaughtering, in which more than 140,000 have been killed.
One of the main reasons why this civil war has gone on so long is that in addition to Russia and China, two members of the UN Security Council which support the Ba'ath regime for their own interests, there are some other neighbours of Syria have kept the cauldron burning.
The opposition, described as the other side, consists of nearly 100 armed groups. The FSA, which Turkey has favoured right from the outset, is no longer the sole opposition group: Kurdish groups have even been drawn in to the PKK/KCK ranks with the PYD organisation.
More importantly, radical groups such as ISIS are not only damaging the FSA's role as the sole and most powerful opposition group, but are causing severe humanitarian trauma.
The Syrian civil war is not something from which Turkey can stand aloof and take no interest. It is true that the land border is very long, but the human reality is that the people, of all ethnicities and faiths, are equally divided between the two countries. Some 750,000 registered Syrian refugees have come to Turkey. The number of Syrian guests, as the Turkish government refers to them, may increase further because they live under better conditions in Turkey than in other countries. These Syrian guests today represent a major problem. The plight of the refugees, which is turning into a terrible tragedy, has the potential to shape the future course of the war.
So what needs to be done?
The first step might be to secure a guarantee of peace in which all the interests in Syria, of Russia, the main player behind the Syrian regime, will be protected. Turkey must strive to involve European countries, especially the United States, and some others.
Turkey, together with these Western forces, should now try to initiate a diplomatic solution to the conflict which, as of now, seems to continue ad infinitum. Peace in Syria has to be brought back and has to be brought back quickly before all options dry up and fight continues till the last man standing. What pains us is the fact that till date no serious efforts been made to stop the conflict, the bloodletting and indiscriminate slaughter of innocents, children, women and infirm.
The need today is to build up a powerful union of all Muslim nations.
And if they all come together with the intention of finding a solution I believe the dance of death in Syria can probably be put to an end. They must together take a decision to send peace keeping troops to Syria.
And in making this union to happen Turkey needs to take a leading role for which the nation is capable and probably ready.
The author is a popular author and a political commentator based in Turkey. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.