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Military

October 9, 1998

TURKEY-SYRIA 'ESCALATION CAUSES WORRY'

Increasing tensions between Turkey and Syria raised the hackles of foreign observers from Western Europe through the Middle East. All commentators called for "self-restraint" and "dialogue" on the part of both parties. Observers worried that an outbreak of violence between the two neighbors would create another boiling pot in the Middle East, which has already been made unstable by the stagnation of the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Arab observers took particular umbrage at Turkey's threat of military action against Syria unless Damascus immediately ends its alleged support for Kurdish separatist rebels fighting in the mountains of southeast Turkey. Arab pundits warned of the further deterioration of Turkic-Arab relations if Turkey relies on its strategic alliance with Israel to resolve the conflict with Syria. European writers viewed with great trepidation the prospect of a conflict "between two Muslim countries" spiralling out of control. They judged that a confluence of events had conspired to create an escalation the crisis: Syrian anger over Turkey's growing military alliance with Israel; U.S. policy toward Iraq and the Turkish government's desire to divert domestic attention from internal political problems. These were themes:

THE PRINCIPALS: Turkish papers concluded that Ankara had undertaken a tougher "significant strategy change" toward Damascus because it had lost patience in trying "to reason" with Syria regarding the latter's "support for the [Kurdish Workers' Party] PKK." Mass-appeal Sabah said that Ankara is prepared for bilateral talks "if the Syrian leader expels the PKK leader from Syria, and if there are clear indications that Syria is not providing support for terrorism." Only religious/ conservative Turkiye criticized Ankara's "amateur, overly optimistic...policies toward Syria." Surprisingly, after a month-long campaign in the Syrian media criticizing the Israeli-Turkish military alliance, only headlines--no editorials or commentary--have appeared on the latest tensions with Turkey.

FOCUS ON U.S. REACTION--Considerable attention was placed on the perceived U.S. perspective on the row. Turkish papers criticized Washington for taking too lightly Ankara's "absolutely substantial" assertions about Syria's terrorist activities. "Although Syria has been named among terrorist countries on the U.S. list, Damascus is the most frequently visited capital by U.S. secretaries of state, from the Bush administration to the present," pro-Islamic Yeni Safak intoned. German, Italian and Turkish writers also judged Washington's policy toward Iraq, i.e., its support for the Kurds in northern Iraq, to be at loggerheads with Turkey's interests. Ankara's intellectual/opinion maker Cumhuriyet claimed that Turkey "had been kept out" of Secretary Albright's September 17 meeting with Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in which the two leaders were reconciled. Meanwhile, the Arab press charged that the U.S. had given tacit approval of Turkey's stance against Syria and contended that the conflict is an attempt to put pressure on peace process holdout Syria to enter into negotiations with Israel. Cairo's pro-government Al Ahram regretted that the dispute "comes at a time when the American administration...seems to be at its worst, when Russia is deteriorating, and when Europe is preoccupied with its internal problems." Several Arab editorials stressed the urgency of Arab "mediation" of the dispute.

This survey is based on 39 reports from 11 countries, October 3-9.

EDITOR: Gail Hamer Burke

To Go Directly To Quotes By Region, Click Below

|  EUROPE  |    |  MIDDLE EAST  |   

TURKEY AND SYRIA

TURKEY: "Kurdish Card Of The U.S."

Hikmet Cetinkaya wrote in intellectual/opinion maker Cumhuriyet (10/9): "The U.S. meetings with Talabani and Barzani produced an agreement contradicting the Ankara process. Turkey has been kept out of this. Why did Ankara remain silent on this development? The U.S., by taking Britain to its side, plans to do a come back in northern Iraq, and hopes to unite Barzani and Talabani under its supervision. Toppling Saddam is not the only goal. The U.S. wants to use opposition groups against Baghdad for the purpose of establishing a Kurdish state in northern Iraq."

"Where Is The Real Crisis?"

Haluk Sahin wrote in intellectual Radikal (10/9): "Syria has been labeled as terrorist, and Turkish assertions about this terrorist country are absolutely substantial. However, a solid thesis does not necessarily mean that you will be the winner. A solid thesis needs very good presentations. This is the real front of the ongoing battle: public relations worldwide. Instead of giving messages to each other, we must make ourselves heard as well to the world."

"Conditions For Dialogue"

Hasan Cemal wrote a front-page editorial in mass-appeal Sabah (10/8): "Ankara is prepared for bilateral talks with Syria when certain conditions are met. If the Syrian leader expels the PKK leader from Syria, and if there are clear indications that Syria is not providing support for terrorism, then Ankara is willing to initiate a bilateral dialogue."

"What Should Be Done?"

Oktay Eksi wrote a front-page editorial in mass-appeal Hurriyet (10/8): "The United States limited its reaction by noting that Syria is on the list of terrorist countries and suggested that the problem should be solved via diplomacy. One can see that the United States is concerned about the fate of the Israel-Palestinian negotiations and the possibility that the peace process could be damaged because of the Turkey-Syria crisis. But it is also no secret that the United States thinks 'It would not be a bad idea if Turkey teaches a good lesson to Syria.'"

"The Syria Crisis"

Abdurrahman Dilipak wrote a front-page editorial in ultra-fundamentalist Akit (10/8): "What is Ankara's goal: Is it the PKK itself, or Syria which supports the PKK? This point is unclear. A war in this region will demolish all balances and will likely spread. The problem can easily be solved only if Damascus acts with common sense. If Damascus doesn't, there are not many options left for Ankara."

"Assad Family Also Gets Its Share"

Hakki Devrim wrote in intellectual Radikal (10/8): "The Assad family in Syria has been taking its share from PKK-operated drug trafficking for years. Therefore, it is no surprise that Syrian army helicopters are carrying the terrorist organization's heavy weapons."

"Goal Of The New Strategy"

Sami Kohen wrote in mass-appeal Milliyet (10/7): "It is not news to talk about the Syrian government's hostility toward Turkey. It has always been the case. But Turkish governments in the past did not make this issue a foreign policy priority. The critical stage between Ankara

and Damascus has come about as a result of Turkey's passive and inconsistent policies toward Syria over the past 10 to 15 years. Today both civilian and military authorities are determined to abandon these policies, and pursue an activist strategy, even at the cost of provoking an armed conflict. The new strategy aims at bringing the Damascus government to reason regarding its support for the PKK.... Ankara has made an important and significant strategy change. If crisis management does not produce any result in the coming days, diplomacy will probably be put aside."

"Turkey Better Get Used To Crisis"

Mustafa Karaalioglu wrote in pro-Islamic Yeni Safak (10/7): "There are some factors which prevent Turkey from going further: the Arab world, Russia and Iran are against a military strike. The United States and our new ally Israel are suggesting diplomacy. The most important factor that makes war with Syria impossible is America's neutral stance. There is an ongoing, nonpublic political engagement between the United States and Syria. Although Syria has been named among terrorist countries on the U.S. list, Damascus is the most frequently visited capital by U.S. secretaries of State, from the Bush administration to the present."

"Syria Had Better Behave"

Fikret Ertan wrote in conservative/religious Zaman (10/7): "Turkey cannot wait forever for Syria to behave. Turkey's southeast has been suffering from terrorism over the last 15 years, and Turkey has made many sacrifices in this struggle. However, Syria's support for terrorism clearly obstructs Turkey's efforts. Turkey has always asked Damascus to change its hostility, and has patiently waited for a positive development, to no avail. Today, Turkey is really fed up with Syria. Defeating terrorism cannot be accomplished unless its foreign sources are cut off. Turkey has given Syria a message, and made it clear that this time, there will be no tolerance."

"Strategic Move"

Kerem Caliskan wrote in intellectual Yeni Yuzyil (10/7): "The PKK has not been able to find a solid basis in Turkey, despite all its efforts for the past 10 years. The primitive mentality of terrorism has met only defeat in modern Turkey, and the PKK has turned into a puppet organization under Syrian control.... However, the U.S. initiative for a federative Kurdish region in northern Iraq could easily turn into a productive zone for the Syrian-controlled PKK. Ankara's strategic move against Damascus hopes to block this game. With the help of its move against Syria, Ankara has made a worldwide declaration that Turkey has joined in the great game in the Middle East as a principal player."

"Ankara's Amateur Policies"

Yilmaz Oztuna wrote a front-page editorial in religious/ conservative Turkiye (10/6): "Ankara so far has pursued amateur, overly optimistic and to a certain extent ignorant policies toward Syria. Our neighbor Syria is an evil in itself. Syria will not change its hostility toward Turkey, not until the 28-year-old dictatorship has gone."

"Syrian Crisis From The U.S. Angle"

Yasemin Congar wrote in mass-appeal Milliyet (10/5): "The United States thinks that the crisis with Syria should be solved via diplomacy. Washington does not want a hot escalation between Turkey and Syria at this stage. The most important reason for this approach is the revitalization of the Middle East peace process. The Clinton administration very much values the recent impetus on the process. And Washington is not ready to carry the burden if a military strike from Turkey to Syria occurred, and the Arab world got uneasy.... According to the United States, Turkey's military strike against Syria is not a good idea. It may produce more harm than

benefit to Ankara. It will harm the regional atmosphere, and it will not be helpful in solving the Kurdish issue, on both the national and the international level."

SYRIA: "Turkish Escalation Causes Worry"

Government-owned Al-Thawra had this headline (10/7): "Turkish Escalation Causes Worry And Surprise In The International Community: Syria Is Sticking With Civilized Ways To Resolve Any Dispute; Ankara Is Beating Drums Of War Without Any Reasonable Cause." Government-owned Tishreen's headline said (10/7): "Qadhafi: Any Attack On Syria Is An Attack On Libya And We will Kick Out Turkish Companies."

"Ankara's War Drums"

Government-owned Tishreen ran these headlines (10/7): "Presidents Assad and Mubarak review the situation of Syrian-Turkish relations following the latest Turkish escalation. President Mubarak presents the outcome of his discussions in Ankara and listens to the Syrian point of view." Headlines in government-owned Al-Thawra (10/7) said: "Turkish escalation causes worry and surprise in the international community: Syria is sticking with civilized ways to resolve any dispute; Ankara is beating the drums of war without any reasonable cause." Government-owned Tishreen (10/7): "Qadhafi: Any attack on Syria is an attack on Libya and we will kick out Turkish companies."

MIDDLE EAST

EGYPT: "The World Is Preoccupied"

Ibrahim Nafie, editor-in-chief of pro-government daily Al Ahram, held (10/8), "The timing of the Turkish-Syrian escalation is complicating the crisis. It is sudden although the reason is old.... It coincides with the confusion in the domestic Turkish scene.... This escalation comes two years after signing the Turkish-Israeli alliance. It coincides with the freeze and state meetings do not help.... It comes at a time when the American administration, the world's leader, seems to be at its worst, when Russia is deteriorating, and when Europe is preoccupied with its internal problems."

"Another American 'Desert Storm'"

Said Al Gamal, wrote in opposition daily Al Wafd (10/8): "We should realize that the Turkish movement [against Syria] is derived from its alliance with Israel. The aim is to blockade the Arab world and force peace on Syria. This will complete the American 'Desert Storm,' which imposed the American presence, the usurpation of oil sources, and the annihilation of the Iraqi people. Can our governments block this siege, or do they have nothing but statements?"

"Israel Seeks To Exploit Alliance With Turkey"

Columnist Gamal Zayda wrote in pro-government Al Ahram (10/6): "The fact is that Israel seeks to exploit its alliance with Turkey to change the current situation in the Middle East by pressuring Syria."

"Will Turkey And Israel Listen To Call Of Peace Or War?"

Gamal Zayda, wrote in pro-government Al Ahram (10/6): "There has been tension between Ankara and Damascus for a long time, but it has not escalated to war. What drove Turkey to push the situation to that extent? The fact is that Israel seeks to exploit its alliance with Turkey to change the current situation in the Middle East by pressuring Syria. It seeks to divert the attention away from the Palestinian talks, before the Washington meeting. Will Turkey and Israel listen to the call of peace, or will they seek war again?"

"We Ask Syria And Turkey To Respond To Mubarak's Efforts"

Pro-government daily Al Ahram held (10/5): "Syria, or any other Arab country, has no interest in war with Turkey, with its search for a just and sustainable peace in the Middle East. Thus, it is difficult to blame Syria for the current sudden tension on the

Syrian-Turkish borders. But there are many chronic problems between Syria and Turkey, especially the Euphrates water and the Turkish-Israeli alliance. We ask Turkey and Syria to respond to President Mubarak's efforts. Each party should be fully independent from other strategies made by other regional or international parties, which tend to drive the region in certain directions. A peaceful solution is possible."

JORDAN: "Avoid Regional Conflict"

The centrist, influential among the elite, English-language Jordan Times (10/8) editorialized: "If war does indeed break out between Turkey and Syria, there is no way that such a military conflict could be quickly arrested. The first casualty could be Turkish-Arab relations.... The long-term prognosis is indeed alarming should Turkey and the Arab world come to loggerheads over key regional issues, especially water, security and stability. That is why the Turkish-Syrian crisis needs to be contained before it gets worse."

"Not For The People"

Daily columnist Sultan Hattab commented on the op-ed page of pro-government, influential Al-Ra'y (10/8): "I fear that a Syrian-Turkish war will break out and that it will take away the much-needed attention from the [Arab-Israeli] conflict. We will then find that we have lost a great deal in wars whose reasons we won't even remember in the future.... Will a war break out in the northern part of this region over this person called Abdullah Ocalan? Will we remember the reason for such a war when it is finally over? Did Ocalan take the place of our national cause and our conflict [with the Israelis]? What insanity is the Arab regime leading us to? We were promised freedom, democracy and development only to find poverty, oppression and occupation.... Why are we being incited and inflamed in the name of fighting for our Arab cause, when, as the time of fighting comes, we are sent to fight in a different direction against a different enemy?"

"God, Grant Us Safety"

Sultan Hattab commented on the op-ed page of pro-government, influential Al-Ra'y (10/7): "This nation is already suffering from the occupation of its lands and from serving the interests of the few minorities. This nation cannot handle new wars and conflicts that take place at the expense of the major conflict, the Arab-Israeli conflict, which has taken a back seat to what is what is happening now. Those who fought Iran for eight years failed to launch such a war in the right direction [with Israel] and those who are willing to launch an attack against Turkey do not have a good sense of direction. Our weaknesses and lack of resourcefulness as Arabs should not be the reason for making the same mistake. The war with Iran was bitter and sad and there was no taste for the victory. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the one war that needs to be fought right now."

"Solution Lies Within Turkey"

Nicola Naser wrote on the op-ed page of independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (10/7): "Turkey's undeclared war against Turkish Kurds is a civil war taking place within Turkey. Its participants are Turks and its victims are also Turkish citizens. When the fighting in this undeclared war got too intense due to the Turkish government's inability to resolve it politically and democratically, it spread to include areas outside the Turkish borders.... This undeclared

war between the Turkish government and the Turkish Kurds started because democracy in Turkey failed to melt the ethnic and cultural diversity in that country.... Ankara should look for the causes and the solutions for its undeclared civil war within Turkey itself and not in Syria or other countries."

"The Kurdish Issue Or The Search For A Vital Role"

Chief editor Taher Udwan wrote in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (10/6): "Ever since the end of the second Gulf War and the imposition of sanctions on Iraq, Turkey has sought to play a major and vital role in the Arab region. In one instance it was through (its role in) the international alliance against Iraq. Another avenue was through the water issue in the region. A third time it was the peace process. It seems that Turkey's efforts to find an effective role for itself in the region met only with doors closed by the Arabs. It seems that Turkey is looking for another area in which its military forces can work in order to establish a new Turkish role in the Middle East that would earn it some credit with the White House."

"No To The Military Option; Yes To Dialogue"

Pro-government, influential Al-Ray (10/6) editorialized: "To put an end to the Syrian-Turkish standoff, dialogue and straightforward negotiations are required, not guns and missile launchers. The Arab and Muslim countries of this region all agree that Arab and Muslim interests must come first. The Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference have to live up to their responsibility of healing the rift between these two Muslim country neighbors."

"No To Turkey's Threats Toward Syria"

Columnist Abdul Maguid Abu Khaled wrote on the op-ed page of center-left, influential Arabic Al-Dustur (10/5): "Turkey's actions against Syria reflect Turkey's hostility not only towards Syria, but towards all the Arabs. These Turkish threats are categorically rejected. Turkey has to understand that it is not safe from American and Israeli conspiracies. The United States regards Turkey not as a strategic ally, but rather as a tool for serving American interests. Turkey's alliance with Israel is meant to control the natural resources of all the Arab countries and to drive a wedge among the Arab countries."

"Stopping The Escalation Between Turkey And Syria"

Columnist Mahmoud Jabbour wrote on the op-ed page of pro-government, influential Arabic Al-Ra'y (10/4): "Setting off a crisis between Syria and Turkey is part of a strategy by the enemies of Arabs and Muslims to take advantage of a series of crises already existing in the region in Pakistan, Algeria and the Sudan. Foreign interests want to shuffle the cards in this region, and we have to see the Israeli hand in all that is happening... We call for sensibility and dialogue. We urge Arab forces to mediate. What is currently happening is not in the interest of Arabs and Muslims, Syria and Turkey included. Only the enemies benefit from the current status quo."

"Before It Is Too Late"

Centrist, influential among the elite English Jordan Times held (10/3), "The escalation of tension between Turkey and Syria threatens the security and stability of the Middle East region as a whole.... This is a dangerous development. It will not only give credence to Syria's accusation that the Israeli-Turkish cooperation is directed against it, but would rally the Arabs on the side of Syria and in turn consolidate the Turkish-Israeli alliance, pushing the region into more turmoil and uncertainty. The Arabs fear that Turkey is about to launch military incursions into northern Syria similar to its pursuit of the PKK into northern Iraq. Unlike Iraq, crippled by sanctions and

no-fly zones, Syria will certainly react to any Turkish incursion into its territory. To avoid such a scenario, differences between the two states should be quickly resolved either bilaterally or regionally."

QATAR: "Ankara Awaiting Washington's Green Light"

Semi-independent Al-Watan had this editorial (10/6): "Turkey's excuse is that Syria supports the Kurdish rebels, an allegation successive Turkish governments have failed to prove. For its part, Damascus has been calling for dialogue with Ankara for the last two years. No, it seems that the sudden Turkish threat points to unannounced goals, raising suspicion. Otherwise, why would there be mention of the need for a green light from Washington?.... It is clear that the long-term goal of an imminent Turkish assault is to break the Syrian army's back so that it would come out of the experience ready to sign a compromising peace document with Israel. And if Syria goes, so does Lebanon. With both countries gone, together with Iraq, Arab countries can no longer guarantee that they will enjoy full national sovereignty in the face of an increasingly powerful Israel."

"'Ataturkish' Anger Exploded Suddenly Without Any Warning"

In the words of semi-independent Al-Rayah (10/5): "Turkish military threats to Syria can only be understood in the context of Turkish military agreements with Syria, because Ankara's pretexts are not convincing. The allegations that Syria supports the PKK do not warrant an all-out war between the two countries. The Kurdish rebellion has been raging for 14 years, so why has 'Ataturkish' anger exploded suddenly without any warning?

"We know that Syria is the difficult link in the chain that has not yielded to Zionist-American plans to control the Arab world .... And Netanyahu's government has found in the generals of Turkey a war-hungry group, who are also responsible for Turkey's political chaos. We believe that the only wise solution to this crisis is to rule out the military option, because it is in the interest of neither Turkey nor Syria. Damascus has expressed its desire for a diplomatic solution several times. In this context, Egypt's attempts at mediation should be commended. There is no doubt that this move receives the full support of Arab countries, which have called for self-restraint."

"We Hope Ankara And Damascus Will Show Self-Restraint"

The semi-independent English-language Gulf Times held (10/5): "All the Arab countries support Syria, which is natural as Syria is a staunch backer of Arab causes. Turkey, on the other hand, has allowed its historic links with the Arab world to dwindle and has rushed into alliance with Israel, which is contrary to what one would expect of a predominantly Muslim country. Turkey's military campaigns against the Kurdish Workers' Party during the past five years, both inside Turkey and across the border into northern Iraq, have failed miserably, but that does not justify shifting the blame for Turkish failures to Syria. We hope that both Ankara and Damascus will show self-restraint and seek a rational solution, and we urge Turkey to adopt a more neighborly policy towards Syria."

SAUDI ARABIA: "Ankara Could Lose Friendship Of All Arab States"

Jeddah-based, conservative Al-Madina had this editorial (10/6): "Ankara could lose the friendship of all the Arab states if it insists on testing its strategic alliance with Israel on Arab territory.... The consequences of Turkish behavior in handling its crisis with Syria cannot...be in favor of Turkey because the implications could be more grave.... We demand a practical Arab position, which could help relay a clear message to Ankara."

EUROPE

FRANCE: "Main Beneficiary Is Netanyahu"

Jean-Pierre Perrin wrote in left-of-center Liberation (10/6): "The main beneficiary of the renewed tension in the Middle East between Syria and Turkey is Netanyahu, because it detracts attention from the stalled peace process, even if he has refrained from giving his support to Ankara.... The tension and Ankara's escalation have proven to what extent Syria has become isolated.... Only Baghdad has openly criticized Turkey.... The crisis will undoubtedly reenforce the two alliances which are forming in the region. On the one hand, the alliance between Ankara, Jerusalem and Amman, and another alliance yet to be born, between Damascus and Baghdad, which is forced to exist because of the Israeli-Turkish rapprochement."

GERMANY: "Attempt To Divert Attention And Signal Washington"

Andrea Nuesse commented in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (10/6): "Deploying troops at this point is also an attempt to divert attention from the domestic situation in Turkey and to send a signal to Washington. The Turkish leader is trying to move attention from the disclosures about connections between the government and the mafia. In addition, the country is in a state of heightened alert because of the sentencing of the Islamic mayor of Istanbul and his banning from politics. Government leaders fear that early elections in April might help Islamic politicians.... In addition, Ankara wants to make clear, particularly to Washington, that the Kurdish question is expressly a Turkish issue and that it will not tolerate any intervention from the outside. The publicly celebrated reconciliation of two estranged Kurdish groups in Washington...was considered an affront by Ankara."

ITALY: "Ankara's Impure Love Affair"

Fiamma Nirenstein wrote from Tel Aviv in centrist, influential La Stampa (10/6): "We could not understand the reasons for the present situation if we do not go back to last Sept. 17 in Washington. There, under American auspices, the Kurds signed a peace treaty between the different factions. This deal...is the latest move in an American commitment to the Kurds.... This has been the case since the U.S. decided to fight its war against Saddam Hussein...by subsidizing his enemies.... For Turkey, it is a terrible affront that America helps its enemies.... But while Turkey warns America, though it might seem a paradox, all the Arab countries also warn Turkey not to come too close to the West.... Finally there is a sort of ostentation, a sort of happy dare-devil attitude in the way Turkey shows interest in the Israeli Anti-Arrow system and in the way Israelis smile, show their happiness, especially to their American allies, any time there is a joint training exercise and they can be seen with some Turkish general. This is an illegal love affair...which is unbearable for jealous enemies."

RUSSIA: "Another Middle East Trouble Spot"

Vladimir Lapsky maintained in official Rossiiskaya Gazeta (10/8): "Another trouble spot appeared in the Middle East recently--the border between Turkey and Syria.... If a conflict between the two Muslim countries gets out of control, it may upset the fragile balance of forces in the Middle East. Let us hope that Ankara and Damascus will manage to keep their cool and refrain from abrupt moves."

"Ankara's Reputation For Blackmail And Bluff"

Nadezhda Spiridonova wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (10/6): "Some observers do not rule out that in the event of a full-scale conflict between Syria and Turkey, Israel may side with the latter (even if not openly). But hostilities are unlikely to break out. Ankara has long had the

reputation for its adherence to the policy of blackmail and bluff in order to bargain for benefits. Suffice it to recall Turkey's threat to block the process of NATO expansion if it were not admitted to the European Union."

"An Attempt To Scare Damascus"

Sergei Guly penned this in reformist daily Novye Izvestia (10/3), "So far Turkey has limited itself only to persuasion and avoided any abrupt movements. This is quite explainable. The consequences of a military confrontation with this neighbor as well would be hard to predict. Because the Turkish-Syrian contradictions are not limited to the Kurdish question. There exists the problem of distributing the resources of the Euphrates, the upper reaches of which are controlled by Turkey. Ankara suspects Damascus of engineering secret plans of seizing the Turkish province of Hatai (sp.), an area of compact residence of the Arab minority. While being clearly inferior to the Turkish armed forces in terms of quality of training and fire power, the Syrian armed forces, nevertheless, remain among the most powerful ones in the region. In the event of a Turkish invasion, Syria can count on the sympathy of the Arab world."

SPAIN: "Turkish-Syrian Crisis"

Barcelona's centrist La Vanguardia opined (10/8): "Turkey and Syria threaten to create another boiling pot in [an area] already made unstable by the stagnation of the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.... Although this face-off appears to have nothing to do with the historic Arab-Israeli confrontation, borders in this region are at best artificial, and the Syrians are worried by the closeness of Turkey and Israel which have recently signed an agreement on military cooperation.... Syria, one of the important Arab hold-outs in signing a peace treaty with Israel against which it has fought three wars in the last 50 years, could be using its support for the Kurds in response to what it views as a Turkish-Israeli pincer on itself. Turkey rejects Syrian accusations that it is cooperating with Jerusalem against Damascus, declaring that it is only acting in defense of its own national interests. Any outbreak of violence between these two unfriendly neighbors could, however, reactivate the Near East volcano."

For more information, please contact:

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Telephone: (202) 619-4355

10/9/98

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