Turkey’s Regime Change Policy for Syria Finds Little Domestic Support

Turkey’s Regime Change Policy for Syria Finds Little Domestic Support
A Turkish forces soldier on an armored vehicle uses his binoculars as he patrols on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, overlooking Kobani, Syria, Oct. 16, 2014 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Turkey recently announced that only Syrian refugees would be allowed to cross the border to fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS) in the besieged town of Kobani. In an email interview, Sinan Ülgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, discussed domestic influences on Turkey’s Syria policy.

WPR: How unified is the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Turkey’s Syria policy, and how does the Turkish opposition view the AKP’s policy?

Sinan Ülgen: The Turkish government’s policy on Syria has never really been popular. There are no dissenting voices within the ruling party given the strong party discipline. But both with regard to the political opposition and public opinion in general, Syria policy remains one of the less popular foreign policy initiatives of the AKP government. The reason is that Turkish public opinion has traditionally been cautious and wary of intervention in other countries’ domestic affairs, which is a long-standing principle of Turkish foreign policy. But the AKP government, following the refusal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in August 2011 to heed to Ankara’s calls for initiating democratic reforms, adopted an aggressive stance and started to champion regime change in Syria. This sudden departure from the established tenets of Turkey’s foreign policy, as justifiable as it may have been, failed to garner much support among the Turkish public. Today, faced with the myriad security spillovers from the Syrian crisis, Turkish public opinion is less supportive of this ambitious agenda.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.