Despite tensions, Turks against Syria intervention

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Turkish politicians are fighting a war of words with Syria, but a new poll shows the country’s populace is dead-set against an intervention

 Eighteen percent of Turks support the country’s potential role as a mediator between the conflicting parties in Syria, a survey shows. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

A majority of Turkish people oppose any kind of intervention in war-torn Syria, a new survey has revealed despite rising tension between Ankara and Damascus governments.

The poll demonstrated that 51 percent of respondents want Turkey to remain “uninvolved or impartial” in post-al-Assad Syria. The survey was undertaken by TNS-Turkey on behalf of the Center for Economy and Foreign Policy Researches (EDAM) with 1,500 respondents in 18 provinces. Respondents were asked, “What sort of role should Turkey play in a post-al-Assad Syria?”

Of those surveyed, 18 percent supported Turkey’s potential role as a mediator between the conflicting parties in Syria, while 7 percent supported the idea of Turkey’s provision of economic aid to Syria. In parallel to this public poll, the center carried out an analyst survey with the participation of 266 foreign policy analysts to ascertain differences regarding policy preferences between public opinion at large and specialists.

The latter tended to give the most support to a “mediation” policy at 36 percent. The “non-involvement and impartiality” option was the second most favored policy, receiving 26 percent support. Support for Turkish participation in a potential U.N. or NATO peacekeeping force was also higher in the expert community with a support base of 21 percent. 

The results come at a time tensions run high between Turkey and Syria. The tension spiked following Syrian shelling that killed five Turks in the border town of Akçakale on Oct. 3 and Turkey’s response.

A similar survey conducted in June by the same policy center demonstrated that a majority of Turks did not favor direct military intervention against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Some 56.2 percent of respondents said they opposed an intervention, versus only 11.3 percent who would like to see an invasion, the study said. According to the findings of another survey conducted by the German Marshall Fund in September, 57 percent of those questioned said Turkey should not become involved militarily in Syria.

The latest EDAM survey also illustrated substantial differences across parties. Among ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters, 27 percent favored “mediation,” while 40 percent of the AKP electorate favored non-involvement and impartiality. Among the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) electorate, the option of “mediation” was favored by a minor constituency of 6 percent whereas the “non-involvement” option garnered 60 percent support. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) electorate also favored the “non-involvement” policy with a 60 percent majority. The same option garnered 83 percent support from Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) constituents.

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