ISTANBUL – Turkey and the United States share strategic interests on Syria and on a range of regional developments linked to the situation in Syria, US Republican Senator John McCain has said, urging Washington to seek “closer than ever” cooperation with Ankara and offer it backing so that Turkey can help opposition forces fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
McCain, in a speech delivered at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), criticized the Obama administration for insisting on no action in Syria unless there is a UN Security Council resolution and said the US should instead follow former President Bill Clinton’s example from Kosovo and work outside of the Security Council to form a “coalition of willing states” to intervene militarily in Syria.
According to the former presidential candidate, many US allies, particularly Turkey, are willing to do much more “but only if the United States is with them.” “As one regional official told The Wall Street Journal last weekend, the Turks in particular are looking for, quote, ‘the ironclad backing of the US and others’,” McCain said. “We should provide it for them. We should make US airpower available, along with that of our allies, as part of an international effort to defend safe areas in Syria and to prevent Assad’s forces from harassing them, as they will inevitably try to do.”
McCain also said the situation in Syria should be assessed in a broader strategic concept. “We must be thinking about how we could capitalize on the fall of the Assad regime in Syria to weaken and marginalize Hezbollah … to strengthen Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence … to support the reconciliation of sectarian conflicts through politics not violence … to increase the pressure on the Maliki government in Iraq to roll back its authoritarian tendencies and share power more democratically … and to counter Iran’s subversive hegemonic ambitions in the region,” he said. “In all of these efforts, the United States and Turkey share common interests and values, and we need to be working more closely together than ever.”
According to McCain, Turkey, as well as US ally Israel, will be affected by the consequences if the US fails to act. “Syria will become a failed state in the heart of the Middle East, threatening both our ally Israel and our NATO ally Turkey,” he said. “Syria will turn into a battlefield between Sunni and Shia extremists, each backed by foreign powers, which will ignite sectarian tensions from North Africa to the Gulf and risk a wider regional conflict.”
Source: Today’s Zaman