Turkish press fear consequences of war with Syria

Area near where Syrian shells crashed in Akcakale, Turkey
Image caption The Syrian shells killed five people in Akcakale

The press in Turkey has been expressing concern that artillery strikes on Syria, launched after a Syrian mortar bomb killed five Turkish citizens on Wednesday, could drag the country into a conflict with unpredictable consequences.

"They want us to make war," the centre-right Aksam newspaper declared on its front page.

An article in the prominent pro-secular daily Milliyet said that war should be considered as "one of the last cards".

Meanwhile centre-right daily Star suggested that if the Turkish parliament allowed cross-border military operations, this would be enough to prevent any further military provocations.

"To be honest Turkey did not have any other option but to respond to the Syrian artillery fire that killed five of our citizens. Any other government would have given a similar response," argued journalist Asli Aydintasbas in Milliyet. "What keeps countries alive in this region is not their per capita income, but their military deterrence and power."

"The war of nerves has turned into a war of borders", wrote Eyup Can in the centre-left Radikal. He said it was important for the country to defend its citizens, but added that Ankara should also avoid "falling into the war trap".

'Critical point'

Ismail Kucukkaya, writing in centrist Aksam, was adamant: "Let us scream from the very beginning: No war!"

"Are we right to make a war and do we have enough legitimate reasons? Does the nation want that? Will our economy bear this?" he asked, while also warning that a military action against Syria was fraught with "incalculable dangers".

"We've reached a critical point. We're not only up against Syria, but also Iran, Iraq, Russia and China which support Damascus. Behind us, there is nothing but the provocative attitudes and empty promises of the United States", said Melih Asik in Milliyet.

The author was also worried that Turkey already had enough internal troubles of its own and did not need an armed conflict with a neighbour.

"What we have is an army whose generals are arrested... and a terror problem we are struggling to deal with," Asik recalled. He suggested that "that while Assad is still in control, pushing Turkey to a war should be considered as one of the last cards on the agenda".

"The most important step to deter Syria will be taken in the Turkish parliament," thought Mustafa Kartoglu in Star newspaper.

He explained that if MPs voted to allow the Turkish army to cross the border into Syria if the country was faced with another military provocation, "this motion will be much more influential in deterring Assad".

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