Tension escalates along Turkey-Syria border

The two nations’ more-than-500-mile border has become a tinderbox that many fear could become the spark for a regional war that no one seems to want but that appears to be closer than ever.

Turkey has found itself — often uncomfortably — on the forefront of international efforts to confront Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. A series of incidents between the two nations has threatened to export Syria’s civil conflict beyond its borders and pull other powerful players into the struggle.

For some time, Syria’s raging conflict has been a proxy war pitting Assad’s government and its allies, Russia and Iran, against an anti-Assad coalition including Turkey, the United States, the European Union and Persian Gulf states.

Turkey took an early stand against its former ally, calculating that Assad, like other strongmen challenged by the rebellions of the “Arab Spring,” would fall relatively quickly. That didn’t happen, and Turkish territory emerged as the key staging ground and logistics hub for Syria’s armed opposition. For Turkey, though, there is no going back.

“Turkey has become the spearhead of the international community in terms of opposition to Assad,” said Soner Cagaptay with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “If there is one country that cannot, and will not, live with Assad, it is Turkey.”

Full article: Tension escalates along Turkey-Syria border (LA Times)

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