No breakthrough on Syria expected in Erdoğan-Obama talks

Analysts agree no breakthrough over Syria is expected to emerge from the Oval Office as a result of discussions between Erdogan and Obama.

No breakthrough on Syria expected in Erdoğan-Obama talks

World Bulletin/News Desk          

Although the crisis in Syria will dominate the talks between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US President Barack Obama during their long-awaited meeting on May 16, no breakthrough over Syria is expected to emerge from the Oval Office as a result of those discussions, analysts agree.

Turkey, a country that demands the toppling of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been angered by the latest twin car bombings in Hatay's Reyhanlı town along the border with Syria that killed at least 51 people.

On Saturday, one of the car bombs exploded outside the city hall while the other went off outside the post office in the town of Reyhanlı, a main hub for Syrian refugees and opposition activity in Turkey's Hatay province. Fifty-one people were killed and as many as 100 were injured in the bombings.

However, analysts believe that the two allies, that share a common goal: the toppling of Assad, once more would fail to agree on the methods and timeline in solving the crisis. Erdoğan will try to convince Obama to take a more active role in the Syrian crisis; however, Obama does not have the will to take on the responsibility over Syria as Erdoğan expects him to do.

Ankara has found itself increasingly isolated and frustrated by a lack of US support to facilitate Assad's departure.

Analysts agree that Erdoğan-Obama talks would be tough particularly after the recent Reyhanlı attacks. Erdoğan is expected to underline that the crisis has come to an unbearable point. The two leaders are also expected to discuss Syria's chemical weapons issue.

“There is no signal from the American side to agree to the demands of ally Turkey. Currently, Obama is making dramatic changes to its Middle East policies. The US does not have the same idea with Turkey to facilitate the process in Syria,” Gökhan Bacık, academic teaching international relations at Gaziantep's Zirve University, told Turkish press.

Syrian crisis not an issue of dialogue but hard power

Frustrated by the more than two-year-long Syrian crisis, Russia and the US agreed to seek new peace talks between Syrian opposition and the regime to end Syria's civil war. In his visit to Moscow recently, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Russia had agreed to try to arrange a conference on Syria. On Tuesday, Kerry said that he expected a proposed Syria peace conference backed by Washington and Moscow to be held in early June, and he denied reports that the Damascus government did not plan to attend.

“Syria is not an issue that could be solved through dialogue. Any dialogue would require dialogue with Assad. Syrian crisis needs a military solution, which is tough at the moment. But such a solution would push the US to make changes in its Middle East policy,” said Bacık.

Agreeing with Bacık, Nüzhet Kandemir, a prominent foreign policy analyst, believes that Turkey has closed the channel for dialogue in Syrian crisis. “After all it is not possible to talk about dialogue. Also, there is no agreement reached by the US side over Turkey's demands,” said Kandemir.

Although most opposition figures have ruled out talks unless Assad and his inner circle are excluded from any future transitional government, the US may agree on a transitional period that would include Assad, says Bacık, adding: “This would not be surprising!”

Meanwhile, George Sabra, head of the Syrian National Council (SNC), said Monday that his coalition wants to consult with its allies, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, before deciding on joining a US-Russia initiative.

Turkey, a NATO ally, is anxious to avoid intervening in Syria on its own. It has been pushing for international intervention in the form of a safe zone, which would likely entail foreign security forces on the ground. However, the US fears military intervention in Syria could ignite a wider conflict.

“It is very clear that Turkey and its allies are not standing at the same point in the intervention issue. Therefore, Erdoğan, in his Washington talks, would try to agree on the modest solution as the ideal solution for Turkey is not going to receive US support,” said Bacık.

Another important meeting that took place on Monday was between British Prime Minister David Cameron and Obama over the Syrian crisis.

Cameron said the US efforts that had convinced Russia to join a conference on a political transition in Syria were a significant step forward. The Cameron-Obama meeting gives important clues on whether a diplomatic process is going to start for Syria.

Sinan Ülgen, chairman of the İstanbul-based Center for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), considers the US-Russia peace conference an important one, adding the conference would increase the pressure on Assad.

Iraq, Turkey-Israel talks, Cyprus on agenda of Erdoğan as well

Beside Syria, the other issues that are expected to be discussed between the leaders are Iraq's relations with Turkey, the reconciliation talks between Ankara and Tel-Aviv and the dispute over Cyprus.

About the Iraq issue, the US may reinforce the moves toward compromise between Iraq and Turkey. The US and Turkey have differences in their stance towards Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is currently at odds with the Turkish government. Turkey expects the US to put pressure on the Maliki government, but there haven't been any indications from the US that they will make a move.

The US is also expected to raise its concerns over Turkey's close economic ties with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, as the US perceives the ties as a threat to the territorial integrity of the country.

Obama is also expected to discuss the rapprochement between Israel and Turkey, whose relations with Tel-Aviv were strained due to Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, which resulted in the deaths of eight Turks and a Turkish American, in May 2010.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership envisaged to be signed between the US and the EU is the other topic expected to be discussed during Erdoğan-Obama meeting.

Within scope of the Customs Union Agreement, it is feared that Turkey would face the risk of a 2.5 percent shrinkage in growth and an inability to compete with cheap EU products unless Turkey and the US sign their own trade agreement.

Frustrated by decades of unfruitful negotiations between the Turkish and Greek sides to reunify the divided island of Cyprus, Erdoğan is also expected to raise the Cyprus dispute and expected to call the US to take an initiative over the matter.

Last Mod: 14 Mayıs 2013, 18:07
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