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Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD - [Archive]

Lessons of the ‘humanitarian corridor’ 08/03/2012 - Viewed 718 times

As for Turkey, the apparent “humanitarian corridor” that was applied in Iraq after the First Gulf War was evidently not educational enough.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is increasingly becoming rigid on Syria. Opponents are continuing their meetings in Istanbul under the auspices of Turkey. Mr. Minister is complaining that international actors were not sufficiently solicitous about the issue, while saying he feels anxious about a turn of the screw of the situation in Syria.

Nobody is willing to use force in Syria or take responsibility, especially after having seen the financial and political outcomes of trillion-dollar U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the bargain, all experts are of the same opinion that the Libyan model, which did not cause much of a backlash in Western public opinion, could hardly work in the country. In the end, it doesn’t seem possible to get a result only with air support and the covert operations of special forces. Moreover, there are not rich oil wells that would encourage others to line up to go to Syria. On the other hand, the idea that “something must be done” is shared by many as time drags on.

The success of the revolt depends on the ideological integrity of the Syrian opposition, effective leadership and functional politico-military strategies. As for the most important components of this strategy, they depend on the existence of military training, logistics and, most of all, “safe havens.”

For the rebel party, clinging on militarily and improving and protecting themselves at this stage are possible if and only if they get “safe havens.” The zones in question can never be acquired with the initial military capability of the rebel party. In other words, either a country must open its territory to the rebels, or some parts of Syrian territory must be left to the rebels by removing them from the Syrian state’s hands.

In the present case, there are three important issues that must be solved. First, which country will open its own territory either indirectly or directly to the rebels? Second, with what argument will this be marketed to the public? Third, who will provide the military power that would realize this idea?

Imposing the aforementioned “safe haven” on the public by citing military necessity is quite difficult, meaning it is necessary to find new camouflage that would legitimize this. I guess one of the main reasons that we have been hearing about “humanitarian corridors” lately must be that.

Technically, we know that the realization of a “humanitarian corridor” is possible if and only if there is military involvement.

Naturally, involvement will not be limited to “corridors.” It would trigger new problems in the region or inflame the existing ones after a while. For example, leadership may be captured by Salafists as the insurgency continues against the Syrian regime. Or some groups that are trained, armed and stiffened ideologically may pursue “jihad” by aiming for the sky. From Jordan to Iraq, from Egypt to Palestine or from Lebanon to Israel.

As for Turkey, the apparent “humanitarian corridor” that was applied in Iraq after the First Gulf War was evidently not educational enough. Nowadays, more educational new “lessons” are required. The good news is that Turkey is “as keen as mustard” to learn nowadays.

This commentary was published in Hürriyet Daily News on 08.03.2012

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