One of the more intriguing aspects of the enormously complicated war in Syria is the position of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose allegiance and convictions appear to shift with developments on the ground.
Two weeks ago, Erdogan hosted a summit meeting in Ankara to discuss Syria’s future. For a photo-op, he literally joined hands with the presidents of Russia and Iran, the main backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Erdogan not long ago was still condemning as a “terrorist” and the roadblock to peace in Syria. It was a gesture, it seemed, that Moscow, Tehran and Ankara now stood on the same side of the conflict.
That appearance, however, was shattered last weekend after the United States, France and the United Kingdom launched a barrage of missiles into Syria in retaliation for the suspected chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma. As the governments of Syria, Iran and Russia decried the operation, Erdogan cheered, saying the U.S.-led mission sent an important message to Assad’s regime that “its massacres wouldn’t be left unanswered.”