leading player in Syria aer its success in Egypt, and they groomed other candidates or uture leadership.urkey’s support or the SNC also was a major argumentused by the domestic critics o the government’s Syriapolicy. Blinded by its sympathy or the Brotherhood, theargument goes, the government got urkey bogged downin the Syrian quagmire and increasingly isolated itsel inthe region and the international community. Not only did itinvite a conrontation with Moscow and ehran, the mainallies o Damascus, but also, and perhaps more importantly,the government was even le alone by its allies. Tis allegedalienation o urkey in the Syrian conict, where it arguably had to shoulder the responsibility o conronting the Syrianregime, was, or the critics, due to the sectarian motivationsdriving the government’s policy.Tereore, in the last couple o months, the major oreignpolicy debate within urkey concerned the revision o theMiddle East policy. Critics called or a complete revampo Syria policy, and an opening up o channels to not only the opposition groups other than the SNC but also to theregime. What the critics oen miss is that urkey’s Syriapolicy requires a longer and perhaps painul process, whilethe critics themselves are too tempted to capitalize onshort-term developments to criticize the policy, which wasreected once again in their reaction to Clinton’s remarks.
Reactions to Clinton’s Remarks: A Glass Half Full
Clinton remarks were like a glass hal ull, and everyoneinterpreted them as best suited their agendas. Against thebackground o the ongoing debate, the government’s criticswholeheartedly embraced Clinton’s remarks. For them, herwords simply put the last nail in the cofn o the govern-ment’s Middle East policy. With the U.S. determination toexclude the SNC rom the new structures representing the
In the last couple of months, themajor foreign policy debate withinTurkey concerned the revision of the Middle East policy.
Turkey and the Syrian National Council
Hosting the core elements that went on to orm the SNCsince the beginning o the uprising, urkey has done itsutmost to render it the most representative body o theopposition. Even during the early days o the protests inSyria in 2011, when it was still hoping to nd a negotiatedsettlement through its access to President Bashar al-Assad,urkey let the Syrian opposition meet on its territory. Asit abandoned Assad and called or regime change laterthat year, urkey acilitated the unication o those groupsunder the SNC and the closer ties between the civilianopposition in exile and the military resistance in Syriathrough its shelter o the Free Syrian Army. urkey alsocalled on all opposition groups to unite under the SNC,so that they could gain greater legitimacy in the eyes o the international community. As the countries supportingthe opposition gathered or the Friends o Syria meetingin unis in early 2012, the question o who will representthe ragmented opposition groups gained urgency. urkey managed to have a seat or the SNC at the next Friends o Syria meeting in Istanbul but the only accomplishment wasin having the participants describe it as a legitimate repre-sentative o the Syrian people.Despite its limited success in having the SNC sanctioned asthe sole representative, urkey kept the SNC at the centero its Syria policy. Meanwhile, acknowledging the SNC’slimitations, urkey continued its eorts to expand its base,through closer ties with Syrian Kurds and inclusion o non-Muslim groups. Te SNC’s moves in that direction, such asthe election o a Kurd as its second president, however, ellshort o allaying criticisms, and it continued to be viewed asclosely afliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, while it alsosuered rom lack o strong leadership. urkey’s unwaveringsupport or it, correspondingly, was attributed to the allegedIslamism o its government, and its ties to the Brotherhood.In the regional quarters, the urkey-SNC relationship, thus,came under criticism. urkey’s close afnity with the SNCwas ound to be divisive o the opposition. Instead, somesaid urkey should have based its Syria policy on a morerepresentative platorm. Tough such criticisms might havehad some merit, they were also reective o the act thatmost Gul actors, along with the United States, were notparticularly happy with the rise o the Brotherhood as the