Michael Totten

Turkey Hosts an Insurgency

The New York Times is reporting that the Turkish military is sheltering an armed Syrian opposition group consisting of former officers that’s waging war against Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite regime in Damascus.

The group isn’t large, but it could get bigger.

Turkey is making a serious bid for regional hegemony, not in concert with the Syrian-Iranian bloc, but as its competitor. The quick and dirty way to win the hearts and minds of the so-called Arab “street” is through anti-Westernism and anti-Zionism. This is unfortunate, and it makes Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan a problematic figure, but if anti-Assadism is now part of the recipe, well, there are worse things.

The United States had better watch it, though, because Erdogan is not our partner. Turkey doesn’t play well with NATO anymore. Anti-Westernism is still part of Erdogan’s strategy. If he even partially displaces us as a regional power broker, it will be at our expense.